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of Illinois , a
92 S8473b cop 3
Adlai E. Stevenson of Illinois, a
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TENSION ENVELOPE CORP.
ADLAI E. STEVENSON
BY NOEL F. BUSCH
MY UNCONSIDERED JUDGMENT
WHAT MANNER OF MAN:
A Biography of RD,R.
A Report on Japan
A Biography o the Co-Founder of Time
Arnold Newmnu Portrait
GOVERNOR ADLAI E. STEVENSON
A PORTRAIT BY
Noel F. Busch
Farrar, Straus S- 9 Young
Copyright 1952 by Noel F. BuscL All rights
reserved, including the right to reproduce this
book, or any portion thereof, with the exception
of material reprinted by permission in this book,
for which further permission to reproduce must
be obtained from the original copyright owners.
Manufactured in the United States of America.
Designed "by GEORGE HORNBY
The author wishes to make it unmistakably clear that this
book is in no sense an "authorized" biography; and that it
is not to be construed by any stretch of the imagination as
any sort of political gesture on the part of the subject.
L.DLAI (almost rhymes with "gladly") EWING STEVENSON,
thirty-second governor of the state of Illinois and one of
the few men in history who has turned down a sure nomina-
tion for the presidency of the United States before being
elected to that office, is an earnest, urbane, and affable man
of fifty-two who weighs one hundred and eighty-five pounds,
stands five feet nine and a half inches, speaks with an Eastern
accent, has an income of some $50,000 a year including his
salary of $12,000, owns a Dalmatian dog called Artie, wears
Brooks Brothers shirts, hates to leave an electric light burn-
ing in an empty room and has a detached viewpoint about
his sudden emergence as a major figure on the world scene
which sometimes pleases, sometimes pains and always puzzles
professional politicians who are accustomed to a very dif-
ferent attitude on the part of such political luminaries.
Stevenson's self-possession under trying circumstances is
not a newly acquired characteristic. In 1937, when he was
practicing law in Chicago as a partner in the firm of Cutting,
Moore and Sidley, Stevenson and his wife, the former Ellen
Borden, from whom he was divorced in 1949, decided to
build a house in the country. They acquired seventy acres of
choice real estate in Libertyville, near the fashionable suburb
of Lake Forest, where they had previously spent their sum-
ADLAI E. STEVENSON
mers. There they invested some thirty thousand dollars in a
small but elegant dwelling in the modern style, with steel
walls and picture windows. Six weeks after they had moved
themselves and their belongings into it, the house caught
fire on an evening when they were not at home. A dispute
arose among local fire companies as to which one was respon-
sible for the area in which the property was located. When
several engines finally arrived, there was further contro-
versy as to which one should do what. Finally, the water
supply proved unsatisfactory for the purposes at hand. By the
time the Stevensons reached the scene of the conflagration,
it was too late for anyone to do much, except stand around
and watch the structure burn to the ground.
One of the neighbors who was near Stevenson in the
crowd of spectators edged over to express his sympathy. As he
did so a bit of burning debris floated through the air and
dropped at the owner's feet. Stevenson picked it up and
calmly lit a cigarette with it.
"Oh, well/' he said, "as you can see, we are still using
Stevenson's ability to achieve minor mots in moments of
stress is less the result of flippancy on his part than of an
overly strict conscience, which operates in a peculiar fashion.
To begin with, Stevenson's conscience obliges him to set
himself unusually high standards of efficiency and deport-
ment. Then it forbids him to seek the sympathy of outsiders
in what he regards as his own inexcusable failure to live up to
these standards. Thus, on the occasion of the conflagration,
Stevenson was not only shocked and saddened by the ruin
of a project into which he and his wife had poured much
money, thought and effort. He was also mortified by the
realization that, while the structure itself was insured, the
newly assembled contents, including many items of family
memorabilia by which he set great store, were both unpro-
tected and irreplaceable. To have betrayed his inward feel-
ings, however, would have seemed to Stevenson unpardonable
and might have caused him more remorse than the loss of
Many people take a somewhat similarly Spartan attitude
toward life but Stevenson goes much further than the stoic
norm. Part of his Spartan attitude is to seem not to take one and
to appear, insofar as possible, in the role of a carefree, casual
hedonist. Stevenson owes much of his success first in private
and later in public life to a remarkable proficiency in the
role of trouble-shooter, as successively, a corporation lawyer,
a Washington bureaucrat, a diplomat, and a state executive.
However, in addition to commanding him to work hard and
effectively, his conscience forbids him to take apparent pride
in the results of doing so. In order to avoid what might seem
to him an undue claim upon public approbation, Stevenson
has formed the habit of telling stories on himself which show
him in the light of a comedy character, who never does
anything right and can be counted on to make a hash of
anything he undertakes. Long practice at this form of decep-
tion has made Stevenson so adept at it that he sometimes
almost succeeds in fooling himself.
Just before flying to the March 3 1st Jefferson- Jackson Day
dinner in Washington, at which Truman announced his
long-deferred decision not to run again, Stevenson was dis-
cussing with an old friend and close political associate his
ADLAI E. STEVENSON
promise to appear, the day after the dinner, on the television
program, Meet the Press.
"Now, why do 1 get myself into these things?" Stevenson
demanded angrily. "I ought to know better. Damn it, I
simply can't understand how I can be such a fool Any-
way, it was a mistake. I'll wire to say I've thought it over
and just don't feel that I can do it."
Stevenson's associate counseled against this course, on the
ground that it would greatly inconvenience the producer and
everyone else on the program.
"Oh, well, I suppose I've got to go through with it," said
the Governor. "I won't know what to say, though. They'll
ask me a lot of hard questions and I won't know any of the
answers. I'll plumber the whole thing, as usual."
As to the questions he would be asked, Stevenson's worst
forebodings were amply justified. The President's unforeseen
announcement had made Stevenson overnight the most
talked-about man in the country and the reporters were natur-
ally eager to make the most of their opportunity. Stevenson,
however, acquitted himself admirably and gave such satis-
factory answers that his own stature as a possible candidate
was substantially increased. On his return to Springfield, he
was, as usual, dissatisfied with his performance.
"I don't think I did a good job at all," he remarked firmly,
"and anyway, now look what IVe got myself into!"
Stevenson's habitual air of aggrieved if not downright in-
dignant self-deprecation would be disarming in almost
anyone, but in a man who has been widely regarded as well-
qualified for the biggest job in the nation, if not the world,
it seems to the casual observer especially refreshing. Political
experts however take a different view about such matters.
Potential presidential candidates are supposed to be over-
stuffed with assurance, on the perhaps specious premise that
obvious self-confidence is the first prerequisite for enlisting
the confidence of their fellow citizens. Thus, any potential
candidate who, like Stevenson, openly shows self-doubt, is
put down as a subtle schemer artfully acting the role in a
new way. Stevenson's skeptical attitude toward his own quali-
fications, along with his outspoken reluctance to quit his
present job as governor, were thus speedily diagnosed by the
deep thinkers as complementary parts of a shrewdly devised
Stevenson himself is more entertained than aggrieved by
such interpretations. "I must confess," he remarked recently,
"I seem to spend a lot of time reading about myself in papers
and magazines these days. The awful thing is, I can't say
that I mind it much either/' The Governor's official car, a
monumental Cadillac limousine, is a dozen years old and has
gone more than three hundred thousand miles. This vehicle,
and a pair of ten-year-old golf shoes with the spikes removed
which he habitually wears around Springfield, have become
symbols of his personal parsimoniousness and Stevenson, in a
good-humored way, likes to admit that he is fully aware of the
political effect of such homespun affections. The Governor,
in point of fact, has excellent taste in clothes and wears them
quite well enough to get on a list of the ten thousand best-
dressed Americans, if there were such a thing. That he
already had plenty of suits is probably the main reason why,
ADLAI E. STEVENSON
as is frequently pointed out, he has bought none since he
arrived in Springfield, except a gray flannel one which his
sister persuaded him to have run up by a local tailor.
The Governor's sister, Mrs. Ernest L. Ives, who might
well become at least a part-time first lady in case Stevenson
ever took up residence in the White House, is a vivacious
brunette, whose social background might make her, too,
unusually well-qualified for such a locale. Two and a half
years older than the Governor, she made her debut in Wash-
ington in 1918, when their father was serving as special
assistant to the then Secretary of the Navy, Josephus Daniels,
whose literary son, Jonathan, is now one of Stevenson's close
friends. Subsequently, she got interested in acting and ap-
peared professionally opposite Sidney Blackmer in the Detroit,
New York and Boston run of a Rafael Sabatini play in 1925.
Her marriage to Ernest Ives, a member of a propertied Vir-
ginia family, who was then a career foreign service officer,
took place in Italy the next year, and her presentation at the
Court of St. James in 1931. The Iveses, who have a grown
son, Timothy, now in the air force, spent the next ten years
or so en poste in Europe or Africa. Nowadays, when not in
Springfield, they spend most of their time at Southern Pines,
N. C., where they have a farm, or at the old Stevenson family
house on Washington Street in Bloomington, sixty miles north
of Springfield on the Gulf, Mobile and Ohio line. When the
Iveses are not in Springfield, the Governor and William
McCormick Blair Jr., one of his administrative assistants, are
the only full-time occupants of the Executive Mansion which,
however, is usually quite densely populated by an ample non-
resident staff and by a constant stream of visitors, official
Built in 1856, in the solidly ornate style of its era, the
mansion is a three-story white brick and stone edifice which
stands on a slight eminence just south of the main business
district of the capital, a busy town of some 80,000 souls. It is
surrounded by an acre or so of rather sparsely planted lawn,
of which the two most conspicuous features are a walled
garden and barbecue pit at the rear and a three-story bird-
mansion in the same style, though somewhat smaller, than
the human one. Callers at the latter arrive by an uphill
concrete driveway that divides just before the front door,
one branch leading to the front steps and the other branch
going under the steps to a door that opens into the basement
where the Governor and several members of his personal
staff have offices.
Under the steps and across the subway-drive from the base-
ment door of the mansion is a cubbyhole usually occupied
by one of four state policemen who take turns guarding the
house, admitting callers, and acting as drivers of the Cadillac
or a smaller car which the Governor also often drives himself.
The head of the police detail is a ruddy, cheerful man named
Captain William Van Diver, whose wife has been the
mansion housekeeper for the past dozen years. The indoor
domestic staff, all colored, includes Gilbert Wright and
Robert Jones, the butler and second man, and Mrs. Gertrude
Dent, the cook, as well as two maids andastair-and-woodwork
polisher. The Van Divers live in an apartment over the
converted coachhouse garage, and all the servants live out.
ADLAI E. STEVENSON
The Governor and Blair occupy rooms on the third floor of
the mansion, where six high-ceilinged bedrooms surround a
central stair well.
The Governor's bedroom, with white plaster walls and
green-carpeted floor, is furnished, like the rest of the mansion,
in a haphazard style partly indicative of Stevenson's taste but
mostly of that of previous occupants. The pictures on the walls
include small portrait engravings of Mr. and Mrs. Jesse W.
Fell, the Governor's favorites among his numerous note-
worthy ancestors, and a big, vaguely impressionistic painting
of a Mexican boy holding a white rooster. Over the bed hangs
the coat-of-arms of the Willis family, one of several patrician
clans included in the Governor s long list of colonial for-
bears, with the motto "Comiter et Fortiter." The books on
the bedside table recently included The Bible as an Inspira-
tion, The Book of Proverbs, Overweight and Underweight,
and Dr. Johnsons Prayer Book.
The Governor, a stickler for punctuality who often carries
two Elgin watches, one on his wrist and one on a waistcoat
chain to balance a key-ring at the other end, arises at seven-
thirty every morning and breakfasts at eight-thirty sharp,
on bacon and eggs, codfish balls, or some other substantial
dish. Whether or not guests are present, breakfast conversa-
tion is sparse. The Governor eats with one hand only, using
the other hand and both eyes to run through the Chicago
Tribune and Sun-Times, and Springfield's Illinois State
Journal. At nine or a minute or two thereafter, he pushes his
chair back and goes downstairs to work.
The walls of the Governor's office are hung, and its fur-
nishings embellished, with family portraits, photographs and
mementoes. The largest of these is an old print showing the
winner of an election bet on his grandfather, Adlai Ewing
Stevenson the first, who served as Vice-President from 1892
to 1896, being pulled through the streets of Chicago in a
carriage by the loser, Stevenson's desk, under two windows
at the end of the room, fronts a long conference table of
which one end is contiguous with it in T-formation. A door
on the Governor s right leads into a smaller room where his
two secretaries, Miss Carol Evans and Mrs. Margaret Munn,
have their desks. Artie, the Dalmatian, usually lies under the
latter desk, with his tail sticking out in a fashion that some-
times alarms shortsighted visitors who mistake it for some
sort of speckled snake.
Artie, a rather sooty-looking specimen of his breed, whose
real name is King Arthur, has a gloomy temperament which
may be partly the result of upbringing and environment.
First he was left alone early in life owing to the death of his
father, Merlin, and the removal to others parts of his brother,
Sir Launcelot. Then, when his master's home broke up, he
was brought from the farm at Libertyville, where he could
go and come as he pleased, to the mansion whose main attrac-
tion, from the Dalmatian point of view, was perhaps the post
that supported the bird house. Even the fascinations of this
fixture did not prove inexhaustible. Artie presently took to
running around the neighborhood at night, in disregard of
a city ordinance that prohibits such canine behavior. This
resulted in phone calls from the neighbors, who frequently
reported his misdeeds to the mansion police detail.
"Artie is a constant source of embarrassment to the state
ADLAI E. STEVENSON
police and to me too/' say the Governor. ''After all, a Gov-
ernor's dog may not have to be above suspicion but he should
at least try to obey the law. Still, I'm afraid Artie really has a
miserable life here, so we try to make allowances."
Across the hall from the secretaries' office is a similar one
occupied by Blair, a product of Groton, Stanford, and the
China-Burma : India theater of World War II, who joined
the Governor's staff two years ago. Blair is a slightly renegade
member of a well-known Chicago family which includes the
redoubtable Colonel Robert McCormick, who is his father's
first cousin. His role in the Governor's entourage involves
screening visitors, handling appointments, and dealing with
social as well as official invitations. Adjacent to his office and
across the hall from the Governor's is another larger office in
which sit another secretary, Mrs. Francis Ruys, and the
Governor's top administrative assistant, Carl McGowan.
McGowan, five years older than Blair and at forty the senior
member of Stevenson's personal staff, worked with the Gov-
ernor in Washington during the war and two years ago quit
a law professorship at Northwestern to rejoin his staff. His
responsibilities, somewhat analogous to those usually handled
by the legal vice-president in a major business organization,
including mapping legislative strategy when the General As-
sembly is in session, helping to plan and draft legislation
when it isn't and advising the Governor on most of his
important legal and administrative problems and policies.
Stevenson himself usually works straight through the day,
sometimes lunching from a tray at his desk but more often
going upstairs to the smaller of the two dining rooms with
Blair, McGowan or whatever visitors are present. About six-
thirty in the afternoon he quits his desk in time for a rather
hasty "bourbon toddy" before dinner, which takes place at
seven or very soon thereafter. "Bourbon toddy" is whiskey
and water with ice and a little sugar.
During his years in private legal practice the Governor
fell into the habit of doing a good deal of work at night,
when he and his wife were not entertaining or dining with
friends. Mrs. Stevenson now lives either in her Chicago
apartment or in weekend quarters near the house at Liberty-
ville which the Governor still owns and now rents to his
friend, Marshall Field Jr., the publisher of the Sun-Times.
The Stevensons' two older boys, Adlai III and Borden, are
at Harvard, in their senior and freshman years respectively.
Their fifteen-year-old brother, John Fell, is at nearby Milton
Academy, When the boys come back for holidays, they spend
half their time with their mother. With family and social
obligations thus reduced to a minimum, Stevenson, despite
the urgings of his aides that he should relax more, is more
than ever inclined to put in long evenings as well as full
days at his desk. The Governor used to ride a good deal,
play golf in the nineties and tennis a little better. Nowadays,
except for a little weekend tennis and an occasional early
morning or late evening walk, he takes no exercise whatever,
so far without discernible ill effects upon either his health
Much of Stevenson's work, now and in the past, has
consisted of reading over documents, either previously dic-
tated by himself or addressed to him by others. When so
engaged, he often rests his forehead on his right finger tips,
a habit which has resulted in a fine, diagonal crease inter-
ADLAI E. STEVENSON
seating four other shallow wrinkles that cross his brow hori-
zontally. The Governor has a high, slightly freckled forehead,
on which the hair line has been in slow retreat for some
years; bright blue eyes, for which he wears horn-rimmed
glasses when reading; a mobile, sensitive mouth and a slightly
aquiline nose which is off center to the left as the result of
three fractures during an exceptionally embattled boyhood.
He usually carries his head slightly forward, listens in-
tently when someone is talking to him and speaks in a low-
keyed but resonant voice, choosing his words adroitly and
using a considerable range of tempo and modulation to
accentuate shades of meaning.
While not by any means an English or even a Rooseveltian
New York accent the Governor often says "acrosst" for
"across" and indulges in several other regional eccentricities
Stevenson's speech, influenced by family precept, travel in
Europe and an Eastern schooling, is so different from the
variety normally heard in his native habitat that it often
causes comment, not always of a favorable nature. Indeed,
his accent nearly blighted his political career at the out-
set, when Colonel Jacob M. Arvey, the astute Chicago
political boss who is usually credited with having been the
first to recognize Stevenson's political possibilities in 1947,
was informed by suspicious colleagues that Stevenson had
gone to Oxford. Aware that no Oxford product could hope
to get anywhere politically in a town whose Mayor Big Bill
Thompson used to get elected regularly on a platform prom-
ise, never kept, to "bust King George in the snoot" and
whose foremost newspaper proprietor, himself schooled in
England, is forever snubbing the British for snobbism,
Arvey was horrified by this news. Meeting a friend of
Stevenson's on a train, he whispered the scandal in his ear
and asked if there was any way that the ugly rumor could
be run to earth. The friend wired Stevenson and got a reas-
suring denial: "Never went to Oxford not even to Eton."
This put Stevenson's political career back on the tracks.
Stevenson has been described as, among other things, "a
Prairie Roosevelt/' a "Chicago Galahad'' and an "Abe
Lincoln in a buttoned-down shirt." While none of these epi-
thets are altogether accurate, all are at least suggestive of the
unmistakable incongruity between the Governor and the
run of U. S. politicians generally and of Mid-West politicians
in particular. Even if Stevenson's emergence from the shad-
ows of state politics to the brightly lighted center of the
national stage had taken place gradually, and even if it had
been preceded by the fanfare that usually announces the
entrance of freshmen aspirants to high office who turn up in
any presidential year, the mass of voters might still have a
fairly hard time getting used to, and understanding such an
unusual sort of performer in such a role. However, instead of
getting on stage on cue and gradually, Stevenson burst on
with a suddenness which would have been disconcerting
even in the case of the customary hard-breathing rostrum-
athletes prepared to wear funny hats, give one-man talk-
athons, or turn ideological cart-wheels in the effort to attract
votes. The consequence of all this has been, not unnaturally,
some confusion on the part of the voting public as to just
what Stevenson stands for, where he came from and even
who he is, as well as just how it developed all of a sudden,
one week in January of 1952, that the answers to these
questions assumed profound national significance.
HETHER OR NOT Stevenson runs for President in
1952, or, for that matter, ever, his emergence from the com-
parative obscurity of state government in Springfield to the
position of front-runner and sure winner in the Democratic
party sweepstakes in the space of less than three months is
without precedent in the far from short and simple annals
of the U. S. presidency. At the conclusion of this dazzling
sprint of which by no means the least remarkable feature
was that it ended long before the wire, when the Governor
obligingly jogged off the track to watch his less fleet compet-
itors fight each other down the homestretch Stevenson
was so far ahead that the rest of the field was out of sight
behind him. The start, however, was a very different matter.
This took place largely by accident one evening in late
August of 1951, when a young man named Porter McKeever,
then press chief for the U. S. mission to the United Nations
to whose General Assembly Stevenson had been an alternate
delegate in 1946 and 1947, dined with Frank Montero,
secretary of an organization called the National Urban
League, in New York.
During the course of casual conversation, Montero men-
tioned that the League, of which one function is to stimulate
public discussion of racial relations, was making plans for
its annual dinner the next January. The banquet committee,
it seemed, had invited Stevenson as a main speaker and was
wondering what to ask him to talk about. McKeever casually
suggested that a possible theme for his speech might be the
effect of racial discrimination in the U. S. upon U. S. relations
with, and propaganda in, foreign countries, especially those
in Asia. He remarked that Stevenson qualified as an expert
on that topic, both as an outstanding supporter of civil rights
at home and as a public servant of wide experience abroad.
McKeever left for Europe a few days later but his sugges-
tion stuck in Montero's mind. Other active members of the
League thought well of it. Stevenson, who had made a
habit of giving three or four speeches outside his state every
year, thought both the occasion and the subject sounded
worth-while. He accepted the invitation and then went on
with his job which, shortly afterwards, came to include an
investigation into a tragic mine disaster at West Frankfort,
Illinois, where over a hundred miners were killed by an
At about the same time that the Urban League was
making plans for its banquet, a totally unrelated conference
about other plans was going on in the editorial offices of
Time, whose editor, T. S. Matthews, had been a 1922
classmate and close friend of Stevenson at Princeton. Times
Chicago bureau had proposed Stevenson as a subject for
a "cover story" and his qualifications, based on his record as
Governor, were being carefully canvassed. Eventually, the
conclusion was reached that they were adequate. The ques-
tion that then arose was when the cover should be scheduled.
January looked like a good month, for one reason and
ADLAI E. STEVENSON
another. In November, a query went to Chicago: "Is
Stevenson doing anything that might possibly make news
that month?" The Chicago bureau consulted Blair in the
Governor s office, who mentioned that the Governor would
be going to New York to deliver his Urban League speech on
the twenty-first. Time decided that, although the story was
intended to be chiefly a "take-out on the always fascinating
state of Illinois/' the New York speech would make an
At about the same time that these two distantly related
series of events were taking place, a third sequence was
starting in Washington, in the form of certain thoughts that
passed through the mind of President Harry S. Truman.
Early in January, these thoughts caused Mr. Truman to send
word to Governor Stevenson that he hoped, the next time
the Governor was in Washington, that he would come to pay
The link between Truman's suggestion, the Time cover
story and the Urban League dinner proved to be the catas-
trophe at West Frankfort This, and the ensuing investigation
into its causes, gave sudden impetus to legislation then before
Congress to place mine investigation under federal rather
than state authority. Stevenson, a confirmed believer in the
theory that government should be as decentralized as possible,
opposed the idea and wanted to make his views known to
John L. Lewis, Oscar Chapman and other influential pro-
ponents of the law in question. Thus, instead of being a
cause of postponing his trip East, as might otherwise have
been the case, the disaster was an additional cause for
The Governor flew to New York on Sunday, the twentieth
of January. His speech at the Urban League dinner, held
in the grand ballroom of the Waldorf, went off well on
Monday night, and inspired a laudatory editorial in the New
York Herald Tribune the next day. The Governor had
planned to fly to Washington on Tuesday, the twenty-second,
but the morning turned out to be a miserably rainy one.
Most planes were grounded though not the one on which
former Secretary of War Robert Patterson was a passenger
and which crashed at Newark, killing everyone on board.
The Governor and Blair, who had gone East with him,
caught a noon train for Washington and arrived about four
o'clock. When they reached the Metropolitan Club, where
they had planned to stay, it developed that the club had
no rooms but had made reservations for them at the Roger-
Smith Hotel Blair and the Governor proceeded thither,
taking with them a sheaf of telephone messages that had
been waiting them. One of the messages was from the White
House and led to the arrangement by which, after dining
rather hurriedly with a former office associate named George
Ball, the Governor entered the front door of Blair House
at eight-thirty that evening. Stevenson returned to his hotel
around eleven and, the next morning, breakfasted with
Illinois' junior Senator, Paul Douglas.
When a presidential caller stays for two hours of private
chat with the chief executive, Washington reporters natur-
ally become curious. Under the circumstances existing at
that moment, which were that Truman had already hinted
that he might not ran again, their curiosity about Stevenson's
call was more intense than it would have been otherwise. Bj
ADLAI E. STEVENSON
the following afternoon, Stevenson's name was, accordingly,
spread from coast to coast in the headlines, and while no
one except Truman and the Governor knew then exactly
what had been said, it was not hard to draw a reasonable
inference. By Wednesday evening the Governor had been
photographed dozens of times by all the leading news
agencies, and the political columnists had begun to speculate
seriously about his future. It was not until the next day,
however, that Time came out with his picture on the cover.
In researching the cover story, Times diligent Chicago
correspondent, William Glasgow, had sent in some thirty
pages of exhaustive information on the Governor. Other
correspondents had sent in as much again from other sources
all over the U. S. In the course of preparing the story itself,
Time had naturally got wind of the visit to Blair House well
before it happened; and it was this, rather than the Urban
League dinner, that became the "news-peg" for an exhaustive
biographical sketch. The net effect was to convince readers
unaware of the intricacies of the publishing business that
the editors of the nation's major news magazine considered
Stevenson's call on the President the major event of the
week which indeed, partly on that very account, it speedily
By the time Stevenson boarded a Thursday morning plane
for Chicago on which a fellow passenger, by pure coinci-
dence, proved to be his old United Nations colleague, John
Foster Dulles, thus giving rise to further speculation when
they landed together Stevenson had become a major
presidential possibility. Thereafter, the Stevenson boom
gained momentum with rapidity possibly unmatched since
William Jennings Bryan took the nation by storm with his
Cross of Gold speech in 1896.
If the start of Stevenson's presidential boom was sensa-
tional, what followed was even more so. This began with
an appraisal by political experts of precisely what the excite-
ment was all about. The astonishing thing about Stevenson,
it developed, was not that President Truman and the rest of
the nation had discovered him simultaneously in January
1952 but that both had not discovered him long before. The
coincidence whereby several forces pushing Stevenson toward
the White House had suddenly combined to give him a jet-
propelled takeoff might indeed have been an accident. The
forces themselves were not only logical but apparently so
irresistible as to defy consistent metaphor.
On starting to investigate the validity of the Stevenson
claim, the first thing the experts did was naturally to scratch
around on the surface in search of biographical data. This
promptly revealed a deep vein of pure gold. It developed
that Stevenson came from a family which, in the state of
Illinois, politically more strategic than New York, amounted
to an equivalent of the Roosevelt family in their less clan-
conscious state, save that it included no captains in the China
trade or other dubious characters.
Having examined Stevenson's personal credentials, the
experts next proceeded to examine his political ones. These
proved to be, if possible, even more impressive. In 1948,
when Truman barely carried Illinois by 34,000 votes,
Stevenson had been elected governor by a landslide majority
of 572,000, largest in Illinois history. This vote might have
been to some degree attributable to the squalid character of
ADLAI E. STEVENSON
his predecessor's administration, but Stevenson was, it seemed,
more than a mere vote getter. In his subsequent three years in
office, in a state long characterized by incorrigible crookery,
he had built up a record which was causing Illinois to com-
pare him with John Peter Altgeld, celebrated as "The Eagle
Forgotten" by Illinois' late poet laureate, Vachel Lindsay,
who lived across the street from the Executive Mansion.
As to the cause of the President's apparent enthusiasm
for Stevenson, that appeared to rest upon an even stronger
basis than had at first glance been apparent. Since Stevenson
had far outrun the President in Illinois, he was probably
entitled to most of the credit for keeping that important
state in the Democratic column. However, what was perhaps
even more consequential than the debt of gratitude which
Truman obviously owed Stevenson, was the fact that the
Governor had never made the slightest effort to collect it.
Ordinarily, a governor who merely rides to success on a
presidential bandwagon is likely to feel that he deserves
some sort of reward if only for not falling off. In this case,
as the politicoes were quick to observe, the President had
been, in effect, a hitch-hiker on the Stevenson bandwagon;
but instead of commuting to Washington to seek the prizes
to which he was so clearly entitled, Stevenson had stayed
in Illinois and attended to state business. Far from asking
favors of Truman, he had conferred another one on him in
the form of an unusually eloquent welcoming speech when
the President visited Chicago for the Jefferson Jubilee in
Stevenson himself, when the jostling experts got close
enough to peek over each others' shoulders for a close look,
proved to be an eminently personable and pleasant dignitary,
whose qualifications for the White House improved upon
acquaintance. The Governor, it developed, was not merely
a good after-dinner speaker but easily the best all-around
political orator to appear on the U. S. scene since F.D.R.
His radio voice was only surpassed by his presence on tele-
vision. Finally, wonder of wonders, he was the first major
U. S. public figure in a generation who in addition to deliver-
ing a speech could even write one, a capacity long since
found only in English-speaking politicians on the opposite
side of the Atlantic.
Stevenson wrote more than speeches. He could even turn
out smooth professional pieces for top U. S. publications
like Foreign Affairs and the Atlantic Monthly and had just
proved it with the lead article in each. The subjects of these
essays were U. S. foreign policy, especially in regard to
Korea, and U. S. morals, especially in regard to political
corruption and crime, which were sure to be, respectively,
the major U. S. foreign and domestic issues in the campaign
of 1952. Stevenson qualified not as a theorist but as a prac-
tical authority on both, since smashing gambling and cor-
ruption was one of his top gubernatorial feats in Illinois and
since foreign policy had been his chief metier for most of
his adult life prior to his election.
There was only one thing left for the goggle-eyed experts
to do after adding all this up. That was to compare Stevenson
with the rest of the field in the Democratic party. When they
did so, the results were startling. The party had, to be sure,
a half dozen or so fairly sound bits of presidential timber
lying around, such as Vinson, Harriman, Kefauver, Kerr,
ADLAI E. STEVENSON
Lausche, and Russell. What with one thing or another how-
ever, it turned out that all the boards had knots in them, in
the form of faulty geography, old age, inability to articulate,
dis-sympathy with the President or whatever. In short, it
became clear not only that Stevenson was a candidate of
heroic stature but also that there was no one else whose
qualifications were even faintly comparable.
The only possible objection that could be made to
Stevenson after a careful appraisal of the situation seemed to
be that he was still, despite the furore about the Blair House
meeting, relatively unknown outside his own state. This
weakness was speedily remedied by a spate of articles, picture
stories, evaluations and interviews in newspapers, magazines
and on the major radio and television networks. Political
pundits like Marquis Childs, Joseph Alsop and Ernest Lindley
convened at the Executive Mansion; the Governor's personal
mail, which had previously averaged a hundred or so letters
a week jumped to three hundred a day; his office staff was
deluged by telegrams and phone calls. Meanwhile, the one
point which, if it had not been exactly overlooked in the
excitement, had never been decided was the Governor's own
reaction to it all.
By the middle of April rough estimates of the situation
showed that Stevenson could certainly win the nomination
with ease if not on the first ballot then, at latest, on the
second. It was at this juncture that Stevenson, theretofore
in the position of a man who has won the grand prize in a
sweepstakes without even buying a ticket, cleared up the
uncertainty, at least temporarily, by announcing that he
could not run.
Stevenson's announcement read in full as follows:
"I have been urged to announce my candidacy for the
Democratic nomination for President, tut I am a candidate
for Governor of Illinois and I cannot run for two offices at
the same time. Moreover, my duties as Governor do not
presently afford the time to campaign for the nomination
even if I wanted it.
"Others have asked me merely to say that I would accept
a nomination which I did not seek. To state my position now
on a prospect so remote in time and probability seems to me
a little presumptuous. But I would rather presume than
embarrass or mislead.
"In these somber years the hopes of mankind dwell with
the President of the United States. From such dread respon-
sibility one does not shrink in fear, self-interest or humility.
But great political parties, like great nations, have no indis-
pensable man, and last January, before I was even considered
for the presidency, I announced that I would seek re-election
as Governor of Illinois. Last week I was nominated in the
Democratic primary. It is the highest office within the gift
of the citizens of Illinois, and its power for good or ill over
their lives is correspondingly great. No one should lightly
aspire to it or lightly abandon the quest once begun.
"Hence, I have repeatedly said that I was a candidate for
Governor of Illinois and had no other ambition. To this I
must now add that in view of my prior commitment to run
for governor and my desire and the desire of many who have
given me their help and confidence in our unfinished wori
in Illinois, I could not accept the nomination for any othei
office this summer.
ADLAI E. STEVENSON
"Better state government is the only sound foundation for
our federal system, and I am proud and content to stand on
my commitment to ask the people of Illinois to allow me
to continue for another four years in my present post.
"I cannot hope that my situation will he universally
understood or my conclusions unanimously approved.
"I can hope that friends with larger ambitions for me will
not think ill of me. They have paid me the greatest compli-
ment within their gift, and they have my utmost gratitude."
Many incumbent presidents, from Washington to Truman,
have refused to succeed themselves. A few military figures
have indicated their unwillingness to enter a new branch of
public service like Eisenhower, who, however, reconsid-
ered four years later, or General Sherman, whose famous
statement actually preceded anything in the nature of a
serious boom. A good many politicians who might conceiv-
ably have won a nomination by campaigning for it have
thought better of doing so, like Senator Vandenberg in 1944.
What made Stevenson's statement unique was that he was
not in any one of these categories; and no practicing politi-
cian, actually assured of a presidential nomination, has ever
before declined one.
A few days after making his statement, the Governor was
asked whether, without altering or amplifying it in any way,
he would give a sort of play-by-play account of how he had
reached his decision. Stevenson said:
"Well, I suppose I had to start thinking about it after
visiting with the President and all the ensuing speculation. I
began to receive visitations from groups, mostly of two sorts.
One was composed mostly of Democratic politicoes. The other
was mostly of newspaper people largely Eisenhower sup-
porters who were apprehensive that he would not be named
and that our foreign policy might be endangered by Taft. So
I found myself beset by these two kinds of groups the pro-
Eisenhower people and the politicoes,
"The long agony that followed was never about what I
wanted to do I had already settled that. It was the result of
an increasing pressure to get me to do something different.
"As far as I was concerned, I had the conviction that
having made my bed, I should lie in it. Having announced
that I was going to run for governor, I shouldn't be diverted
from doing it by any deliberate or voluntary act on my part.
We had started a lot of things here that I wanted to finish.
I dreaded, for instance, to see what might happen to our
highway program. I didn't want to see our welfare program
slip back into the old muddy routine. Then there were many
other things. As I said in that statement, I felt an obligation
to a lot of people who had come down here to help me, and
a lot of citizens who had given me their confidence and
support. However, I began to see for a certainty that if
I just made a statement to the effect that I wouldn't campaign
for the nomination, people were going to make a candidate
out of me anyway. Then I would find myself in the very
distasteful position of running for two offices at the same
time. I should add that I have no ambition to be President.
That nobody will believe, but it's the truth.
"So it all added up to the inescapable conclusion that I
would have to make a statement or else be in the position
of letting down a lot of other friends who wanted me to run,
not to mention the political leaders who wanted to make
ADLAI E. STEVENSON
their own commitments. Sometimes, you know they like to
take an early position so that they can refer to it when con-
venient later on.
"There really wasn't any time when I was close to giving
an affirmative answer, the only question was whether I had
to give any answer. The things that gave me pause were first
the gross presumption of turning down something that hadn't
been offered to me that was just a matter of taste, and I
didn't like to do it. Then there was the matter of the office
of the presidency; I didn't like to seem to be putting the
presidency below the governorship of a state. And then I
didn't want to seem to be expressing a fear of the office.
I don't think I'm a very humble man in any Christian sense
of the word but at the same time I just didn't feel that I had
any God-given powers to figure out the solution to coexistence
with the Soviet Union and all our other tremendous prob-
lems. I had no such self-confidence at all but yet I didn't
want to seem to shrink from the job out of fear. I didn't want
it it seemed to me to mean honor, yes, but also misery. Nor
could I overlook the implications of pitiless publicity for my
children. But at the same time I wasn't going to shrink from
it or wave it away with any maudlin nonsense about Tm not
man enough, the burdens are too dreadful, and I can't do it/
"I had hoped at first that just by taking a negative attitude,
the situation might take care of itself. But as it began to
get increasingly clear that that wasn't going to work, I had
to think about another way. Then the question began to be
how, when and where to say it.
"Oh, I suppose I considered saying 'yes/ of course. There
was the view that a nomination for the presidency is just
Adlai E. Stevenson I and Adlai E. Stevenson II in July, 1900, when the
former was running for the vice-presidency on the ticket headed by
William Jennings Bryan,
Letitia Green Stevenson, the Governor's paternal grandmother. One of
the most indefatigable clubwomen in U. S. history, Mrs. Stevenson
helped found the D.A.R.
Jesse W. Fell, the Governor's great-grandfather, was a tailor, lawyer,
editor, teacher, industrialist and Quaker politico who was responsible for
the Lincoln-Douglas debates,
Children of Adlai E. Stevenson I: left to right, Letitia, Julia, Lewis and
Mary. Lewis Stevenson, the Governor's father, went to school at Exeter.
Lewis Green Stevenson lived up to the family tradition by being a war
correspondent, mine manager for Mrs. Phoebe Hearst, Illinois Secretary
of State and vice-presidential possibility in 1924,
Helen Davis Stevenson, daughter of W. 0. Davis, helped form her son's
literary tastes by reading him Scott, Dickens, Thackeray and Greek
Governor Stevenson inspects framed
copy of three-page autobiography
written by Lincoln at the request of
Jesse W. Fell. Original manuscript,
given to Fell, is now in Library of
Lincoln rewarded Fell for assistance
in the early years of his career by
making him a paymaster in the
Union Army. Fell and Lincoln first
something you don't decline that it transcends any other
obligation. I thought that carried weight. So did the argument
that this election is of frightening importance, particularly
to our foreign policy. You just can't fight for a lot of things
that I have fought for and then not be in the battle when
they ring the bell.
"Then, a lot of people seemed to think I was calculating on
the basis of its being a bad political year. That irked me.
People would say 'Governor, you could win' not 'Governor,
you should run/ assuming that I was being motivated by the
possibility of victory.
"Well anyway, I'm afraid I'm making it all very complex.
You can just boil it down to the ideas that I tried to say
concisely in the statement I wrote. I just meant to keep my
commitments to my friends and followers in Illinois and
finish the work we have started. Illinois means a great deal
to me. My family have lived and flourished here for over a
hundred years. I'll be content if I can leave the state govern-
ment a lot better than I found it and I think I can."
While Stevenson's official statement was about as clear a
declaration of intentions as could have been hoped for, two
questions, in the nature of things, remained unanswered by
it. One was whether under the circumstances his party
would accept it at face value. The answer to this appeared
to be "no," for a "draft Stevenson" movement started the
day after it was issued, and when Stevenson spoke in New
York at a testimonial dinner to Averill Harriman, he received
more applause than the four avowed candidates present put
together, including the guest of honor. The other question,
even if the party did accept it, was where it left Stevenson.
ADLAI E. STEVENSON
Ordinarily, a defeated presidential candidate and it seemed
fairly sure that any D'emocratic candidate except Stevenson
would be a defeated one in 1952 Leads the party until the
next national convention; but this is on the assumption that
the nominee is the party's strongest available personage,
which, if Stevenson failed to run, would clearly not be the
case. One thing at least seemed clear. That was that whatever
happened at the convention, Stevenson would be the Num-
ber One Democrat in the U. S. and a major voice in the
councils of the nation for many years to come.
Meanwhile, if one test of presidential caliber is the ability
to stay calm under pressure, Stevenson's reaction to the
commotion rated better than passing marks. On the way back
to Springfield from the Jefferson-Jackson Day dinner, the
Governor stopped off to look over a state mental hospital at
Manteno, Illinois, and a group of the inmates cheered him as
"Mr. President/' "I didn't know," said Stevenson later,
"whether it was a case of extreme psychosis, or whether I
should have been flattered."
When the mansion quota of visiting newspapermen jumped
from one or two a week to a dozen or so a day, many of whom
spent their time interviewing each other in the basement
hall, Stevenson remarked: "I ran out of words trying to be
witty. ... I usually try to say the same thing about how
I am running for Governor of Illinois and nothing else, and
that I like the work and love Illinois but sometimes I find
that I just smile like a mental defective."
A climax of some sort was capped when, in the midst of
all the uproar, a biographer approached the Governor and
announced that he was going to write a book about him.
Stevenson's poise, as usual, was equal to the occasion.
"I don't see how you're going to do it," said the Governor.
"My life has been hopelessly undramatic. I wasn't born in
a log cabin. I didn't work my way through school nor did
I rise from rags to riches, and there's no use trying to pretend
I did. I'm not a Willkie and I don't claim to be a simple,
barefoot La Salle Street lawyer. You might be able to write
about some of my ancestors. They accomplished quite a lot
at one time or another but you can't do anything much about
me. At least, I'd hate to have to try it."
OTEVENSON'S belief that his ancestors might provide
material for a book is amply justified; so amply, indeed, that
the book would have to be in several volumes, preferably
written by Parkman, Fiske or some similar historian capable
of taking a long view with a panoramic lens. Eight of the
great-great-great-great-great grandparents of the Governor
were among the first settlers of Virginia and North Carolina.
Their descendants and those of the one hundred and twenty
other members of his eighth generation forebears have been
involved in so many noteworthy episodes in so many differ-
ent parts of the country that it sometimes begins to seem
as though United States history were merely a footnote to
the history of the united, or at least related, Stevensons
not to mention the Osbornes, Greens, Fells, Brevards, Davises
and Willises, who were also included in the acts.
To go back toward the colonial beginning, when Colonel
Henry Willis was founding Fredericksburg, Virginia, would
widen the scope of investigation beyond reasonable bounds.
A better starting point might be Colonel Joshua Fry, a
comparatively recent example of a Stevenson ancestor, who
was merely one of the Governor's great-great-great-grand-
parents on the maternal side. The Colonel, unlike the
Governor, did graduate from Oxford, an accomplishment
which, in his time, was not regarded as a barrier to leadership
in the U. S. He then emigrated to Virginia around 1750,
taught Mathematics at William and Mary College, collaborated
with Thomas Jefferson's father, Peter, on the first accurate map
of "Inhabited Parts of Virginia" and got his army rank from
King George III who commissioned him to lead colonial
troops against the French at Fort Duquesne, now Pittsburgh.
En route to the battle, the Colonel fell ill and died, after
handing over his sword to a twenty-two-year-old lieutenant
who took command of the troops and buried his superior
under a marker inscribed: "Under this tree lies the body of
the good, the just and noble Fry/'
The lieutenant, as was not at all surprising under the
circumstances, was George Washington. Washington had
not then quite achieved membership in the Stevenson family
but he got into it later on, not once but twice, through
his grandfather Lawrence, two of whose granddaughters by
Mildred Washington Gregory Willis eventually became
Stevenson greats to the third and fourth power respectively.
Since anyone who knew the names of enough progenitors
to a sufficient coefficient of greats could prove some degree
of kinship with everyone else in the world either living or
dead, little would be gained by trying to cover all the
stratifications of U. S. history and geography encompassed
by earlier Stevenson progenitors. What is more to the point
is that, in Stevenson's case, when the family circle is
narrowed down to comparatively recent times and thus
numerically reduced, the ancestral role in national affairs
becomes more noticeable rather than less so, as in the case
of the Governor's mere great-grandfather on his mother's
ADLAI E. STEVENSON
side, Jesse W. Fell. Fell was a peripatetic Quaker who,
starting out on foot at twenty from New Garden, Chester
County, Pennsylvania, soon covered enough ground, literally
as well as metaphorically, to provide material for a pocket-
sized Atlas as well as a history of his era, instead of just a
After pausing for a year in what was then Wheeling,
Virginia, to run an Abolitionist newspaper, and for two more
in Steubenville, Ohio, to take a law degree, Fell wandered
into Illinois where, having inspected Danville, Springfield,
New Salem, Decatur, Jacksonville, Pekin and Delavan, he
lit, temporarily, in Bloomington, which has been the citadel
of his descendants ever since. In Bloomington, of which the
population then was under a hundred, Fell augmented his
income from the law by numerous sidelines. These included
real estate, politics, literature, education and botany, which
he practiced after the fashion of Johnny Appleseed, for
whom he may indeed have been a model.
In addition to becoming Bloomington's first lawyer, Fell
became its first newspaper proprietor by starting "The
Bloomington Observer and McLean County Advocate/'
using presses and type that had been shipped up the Missis-
sippi and hauled overland from Pekin. The paper folded
after twenty issues, but Fell subsequently started several
others and became a contributor to the Chicago Tribune.
When not founding papers, Fell was founding towns, which
included Pontiac, Clinton, Towanda, Lexington, Le Roy,
El Paso and way stops, in most of which he also acquired
substantial real estate holdings. He also started schools and
colleges like the Normal University near Bloomington, to an
offshoot of which Adlai Stevenson was sent, with indifferent
results, in 1915.
In the course of his law practice in Bloomington, Fell
found himself obliged, in the winter of 1834-35, to go to
Vandalia, then the state capital, to battle a bill under legis-
lative consideration to reduce the size of McLean County.
In Vandalia he lived in a boarding house at which one of
the other guests was a young member of the General
Assembly whose name was, naturally, Abraham Lincoln.
Friendship between Fell and Lincoln ripened rapidly. By
1854, when Senator Stephen Douglas came to Bloomington
to make a speech, it was not only characteristic for him to
discuss this project with Fell but also characteristic of Fell
to suggest that he share the platform with the then obscure
Emancipator. Douglas declined the invitation but took a
raincheck. Four years later, when Lincoln was running for
the Senate, he accepted it, in what developed into the
famous series of Lincoln-Douglas debates, which lead event-
ually to Lincoln's nomination for the presidency.
Lincoln's nomination was not his only debt to Fell. Like
Stevenson in early 1952, Lincoln, in 1858, was still unknown
to the rest of the country, especially the East, Fell pestered
him to remedy this situation by writing an autobiography,
which Lincoln eventually dashed off in three pages. As the
first, shortest and most authentic of the several hundred lives
of Lincoln later composed, as well as the only one in the
subject's own handwriting, this biography, of which Lincoln
gave Fell the only copy, served its immediate purpose of
helping him win the campaign of 1860. As one of the most
precious items of Lincolniana in existence, it also later on
ADLAI E. STEVENSON
served the additional purpose of getting Adlai Stevenson
involved in politics for the first time, in 1936.
That the Lincoln autobiography figured in Stevenson's
career was due to his predecessor in the Executive Mansion,
Henry Horner, who served as Governor from 1932 to 1940,
when he died just before his second term expired. Homer
was an ardent collector of Lincolniana. When he and
Stevenson met from time to time in Chicago, Horner often
inquired about the wherabouts of the famous manuscript.
He wanted to raise a fund to buy it for $50,000 and give it
to the state library before it was acquired by the Library of
Congress, which, in fact, eventually got it as a gift. Stevenson
explained that the manuscript was in the possession of two
elderly great-aunts, then living modestly in Los Gatos, Cali-
fornia, who were Fell's surviving daughters. His extreme
disinterest in profiting from the family's possession of this
valuable relic made a deep impression upon the Governor.
It lead to an acquaintance and then a friendship between
Stevenson and Horner which culminated in Horner asking
Stevenson to be the treasurer of his campaign fund in 1936,
an honor which, though Stevenson declined it, was his own
first practical contact with politics.
While Jesse Fell's career was lively enough to provide
material for a biography by Francis Milton I. Moorehouse,
published by the University of Illinois in 1916, he was by
no means the star performer in the large cast of Stevenson
ancestors. In fact much of the data about him is included
in another book by an ancestor with a better claim to such
billing. This was the first Adlai Ewing Stevenson, nick-
named "the Headsman/ 1 whose son married Fell's grand-
daughter, Helen Davis. Although he was Fell's junior by
almost a generation, Stevenson was well acquainted with
both Fell and Lincoln and recorded some of their doings in
his book of memoirs, Something of Men 1 Have Known,
published in 1909. In these memoirs however, Lincoln and
Fell are merely curtain raisers to Stevenson's own career,
which excelled the family's already lofty standard in such
The first Adlai Stevenson got his Christian name from
his great-great-grandfather, Adlai Osborne. Where Adlai
Osborne got it is no mystery either since it occurs only once
in world literature, and there inconsequentially, in the twenty-
ninth verse of the first chapter of the Book of Chronicles
which, for no apparent reason, identifies someone named
"Shapat," inadequately enough, as being "the son of Adlai/'
Why he got it remains a riddle. Grounds for the supposi-
tion that "Adlai" means "the Just" or indeed, anything else,
are extremely dubious. A more plausible surmise may be that
Osborne's Scotch Presbyterian forebears hoped that in the
course of searching through the Good Book for its lone refer-
ence to his namesake, their offspring would acquire a taste
for improving literature.
The first Adlai Stevenson's nickname provides less of an
enigma. This he got for lopping no fewer than forty thousand
Republican postmasters off the federal payroll when, having
served two creditable terms in Congress, he was appointed
Assistant Postmaster General by Grover Cleveland in 1884.
Since the Republicans had been in power ever since the
Civil War and were almost as long overdue for a thorough
ADLAI E. STEVENSON
pruning as the Truman administration is sometimes thought
to be at present, Adlai Stevenson's mass severances are readily
understandable although, save on grounds of economy, they
might seem unjustifiable to his grandson, an advocate of civil
service and the merit system for government employees. To
Cleveland they seemed not only justifiable but praiseworthy.
Adlai Stevenson was rewarded, in addition to his nickname,
with the vice-presidency in 1892, when Cleveland got elected
for the second time.
The present Adlai Stevenson's grandfather was a kindly
gregarious, indefatigable public servant whose large stock of
public esteem and stamina enabled him to run for office
twice more, once when he was defeated for Vice-President on
the Bryan ticket in 1900, and again when at seventy-three,
he was defeated for the governorship of Illinois in 1908 by
a mere 23,000 votes to the national ticket's 179,000, For
sheer durability, however, he was outclassed by his wife,
whose pioneer heritage cropped out in the field of womens'
clubs. Mrs. Letitia Green Stevenson was the second President
General of the National Society of the Daughters of the
American Revolution and served four terms as such, from
1893 to 1898, during which the organization grew from
2,760 to 23,097, and got started on its rise to nationwide
importance. She was also a pioneer Colonial Dame and a
pioneer member of the group which met in Washington in
1896 to found the Congress of Mothers, which later became
the Parent-Teacher Association. When the Illinois Congress
of Mothers was organized in 1900, she promptly became one
of its vice presidents and was still serving it thus in an
honorary capacity two years after her husband had settled
down to view his long and dazzling career in literary retro-
The rendezvous with history of Lewis Green Stevenson,
father of Adlai II and son of Adlai I, was delayed by tuber-
culosis of a shoulder bone, in consequence of a youthful
shooting accident. Before his marriage to Jesse Fell's grand-
daughter, whose father owned a newspaper named the
Blooinington Pantagra^li, itself descended from the original
Fell publications, young Stevenson went to China and Japan
to cover the war in which Japan acquired Korea, starting
the still widening spiral of misery for that nation, about
which his son was to write a half -century later. After the
war, he and his wife and their infant daughter went to
Arizona for the climate. Also in Arizona, for different reasons,
was Mrs. Phoebe Apperson Hearst, who had inherited several
gold and copper mines from her husband, Senator George
Hearst, father of the late William Randolph. Senator Hearst
had of course been a great Washington friend of Adlai
Stevenson L His widow hastened to befriend the latter's
son, by hiring him to manage her mines. When young
Hearst contracted the habit of starting newspapers, young
Lewis Stevenson transferred his interest to those and became
assistant business manager of the brand new Examiner in
Los Angeles, where Adlai Stevenson was born in the historic
year of 1900.
After serving as his father $ private secretary in the cam-
paign of the fall of that year, Lewis Stevenson returned to
Bloomington and directed his managerial talents first to agri-
culture, as represented by forty-nine farms comprising 12,000
ADLAI E. STEVENSON
acres in Illinois, Indiana and Iowa, and then into politics, as
represented by his father's gubernatorial campaign of 1908.
His own first public office was that of Secretary of State of
Illinois, in 1914. In the world war that started that year he
conducted special investigations mostly relating to coal and
fuel supplies for the Navy Department under an appoint-
ment by President Wilson. His own contacts with the
presidency were tangential. They occurred in 1924 when,
as a delegate to the marathon Democratic convention which
chose John W. Davis, he nominated David F. Houston,
and in 1928, when he himself was widely mentioned as a
possible running mate for Al Smith.
To suppose that the plethora of distinguished Stevenson
progenitors would be balanced by a dearth of distinguished
contemporary relatives would be a non sequitur of monstrous
proportions. Genealogical tables show, on the contrary, that
Stevenson is distantly related not only to Vice-President
Alben Barkley, whose grandmother was the Headsman's
first cousin, but also to Georgia's Senator Richard Russell,
who might have been his own running mate this year. The
relationship in the latter case was discovered during the war in
an interchange of correspondence between the two on the
subject of Dr. Ephraim Brevard, who proved to be their
mutual great-great-great uncle. Brevard was a miner notable
among Stevenson's forebears whose chief claim to fame was
the Mecklenberg Declaration of Independence, whereby
Mecklenberg County, North Carolina declared its indepen-
dence from the British Crown sometime before the thirteen
colonies followed suit.
The only task more onerous than really tracing the history
of Adlai Stevenson II might be tracing that of his children,
since this would also involve the family tree of the Governors
former wife. The branch of the Borden clan to which Mrs.
Stevenson belongs is not, as has been frequently asserted,
the one that founded the milk company. Her father, a
socialite and financier who made the first of several fortunes
as a colleague of John Hertz in the Yellow Cab Company,
is presently active in mining near St. Louis but the Bordens
may also have enough other connections with history to
outclass the Stevensons, as a single case in point may
Mrs. Stevenson's aunt is Mary Borden, a novelist now
resident in England, whose novel, You the Jury, about the
trial of Christ, is a Book of the Month Club choice in both
England and the U. S. Mary Borden lives in England
because she is married to Sir Louis Spears, renowned there
as a diplomat, soldier, politician and historian of his
confreres in such fields. Spears wears on his watch chain
not a spare watch, like Stevenson, but a little heraldic lion,
in a reclining posture. This lion was given to one of his
ancestors by the Black Prince at the Battle of Poitiers in
1356. When the French Knights charged in that highly
decisive engagement, Irish swordsmen lying in long grass
in front of the British bowmen rose up suddenly to hamstring
the French horses as they charged over them. The lion
couchant was one of four which the Prince, resting after the
battle, impulsively wrenched off the knuckles of his left
gauntlet and tossed to the captains who had contributed most
to his victory as mementoes of their crucial feat. The lions
on the Prince's right gauntlet are still attached to it and on
ADLAI E. STEVENSON
display in the Tower of London, along with the rest of the
famous armor he wore that day.
The Black Prince's lion, comparable to Lincoln's auto-
biography as a British keepsake, has also had contemporary
connotations. In 1917, when he quit the cabinet to go to
France as a major of infantry, Winston Churchill liked it
so much that he borrowed it from his friend, General Spears
to carry as a good luck charm. It proved so useful as such
that he kept it for four years and only gave it back on the
assurance that he could have it again if an occasion of need
arose. During the last war, in which Churchill sent Spears to
escort General de Gaulle out of France after the fall of Paris,
the occasion came when the Prime Minister caught pneu-
monia in North Africa. Lying, as he thought, near death, he
sent for the lion. This time, Spears, who was the British
Minister in Beirut at the time, got it back more promptly
from a messenger who arrived by plane with a note of thanks
from Churchill to the effect that it had again served him well
If America, to the horror of Colonel McCormick, were a
country like England, where titles are awarded for meritor-
ious service to the state, Stevenson's lineage, like Churchill's,
would doubtless be dotted by peerages. Although not disting-
uished by such accolades, U. S. families like the Stevensons,
Lodges, Roosevelts, Adamses and even Tafts supply valuable
material for the sociologists. Two schools of thought exist about
them. One school suggests that their prowess is due mainly to
heredity and that their virtues are handed down via the glands,
the bony structure and the blood stream. The other school
suggests that their prowess is due mainly to environment,
since good parents raise their children properly and famous
forebears set them lofty standards to maintain or elevate.
In the case of Stevenson, ample evidence exists to provide
argument for either side. On the one hand, since all of the
Governor's traits, including most notably his partiality
for travel, politics, agronomy, and being at the center of
things, have been conspicuously displayed by one or more
of his forebears, he may well have inherited them. On the
other hand, since anything Stevenson reads or any place he
visits inside or even outside the U. S., is likely to have some
link with his progenitors, they have also been an omnipresent
environmental influence. Nonetheless, while even a cursory
glance at the evidence is sufficient to substantiate Stevenson's
belief that his ancestors were a lively group, the Governors
notion that his own career has been hopelessly undramatic
will bear much closer scrutiny.
NE DRAMATIC event in the life of Adlai Stevenson was
an accident on the evening of December 30th, 1912, which
resulted in the death of his fifteen-year-old cousin-by-mar-
riage, Ruth Mary Merwin.
The accident was tragic for all concerned. To understand
why it was especially so for Stevenson it is necessary to know
something about the circumstances.
When Adlai Stevenson was born, his sister Elizabeth,
called Buffie in the family, had already been on the scene
for over two years. According to the psychologists, second
children often consider themselves to be family interlopers,
obliged to justify their presence by especially good behavior.
In the case of Adlai, there were no subsequent arrivals to
diminish this illusion. Being a serious and sensitive child,
he endeared himself to everyone by excellent deportment.
When, on rare occasions, his conduct left something to be
desired, he was more upset by it than anyone.
Adlai's grandfather Davis gave him a red-handled jack
knife. A few days later, Adlai mislaid it. His grandfather
found it. Thinking to teach his grandson a gentle lesson in
prudence, he asked him at lunch whether he liked his new
'Tve lost it," said Adlai, and broke into tears of remorse
before his grandfather could fish the knife out of his pocket.
On another occasion, Stevenson, like countless small boys
before him, yanked a table cloth, causing some china to fall
and break. In this instance, his self-reproach was even more
acute than it had been in that of the knife. He retreated to a
dog-kennel where his worried parents discovered him several
hours later, sleeping on the straw.
There is, of course, nothing much for a Parson Weems
in incidents like this. Oldest children, only children and
children in large families all have certain behavior traits
in common. Second children in families of two are no
exceptions in this respect. However, that young Stevenson
had a well-developed, not to say precocious, conscience bears
on the later incident in question.
What happened on that Christmas holiday evening was
that his sister Buffie, who felt as protective about Adlai as
he felt admiring of her, had been given permission by her
parents to have a few of her friends for supper. It was to be
a teen-age party. Mr. and Mrs. Stevenson went out to call on
neighbors. Adlai Stevenson had his supper early but was
allowed to join his elders later.
One of the boys present was a student at a military
academy. After dinner, it was suggested that he entertain
the others by going through the manual of arms. Adlai was
sent to get a twenty-two rifle. The military academy student
examined the gun carefully, to make sure that there were no
bullets in the barrel or the magazine. Then he executed
the manual of arms, to the applause of everyone. Adlai was
given the gun to hold. He tried to copy the motions of his
sister's friend. It was at this moment that the gun went off.
Later investigation showed that one shell in the gun
ADLAI E. STEVENSON
perhaps because of a rusty spring in the ejecting mechanism
had failed to emerge in the pre-drill inspection. During
the manual of arms the gun had been shaken and the stock
thumped on in the floor. This had loosened the spring and
released the bullet. Thus, by the time Adlai got the gun in
his hands, through no fault whatsoever upon his part, it had
become a lethal weapon.
The bullet entered Ruth Merwin's forehead. She fell dead,
on the carpet in the hall. The elder Stevensons returned a
few minutes later.
"What boy did this?" Lewis Stevenson asked.
"I did/' said Adlai. Then he went up to his room and lay
down on the bed.
At an inquest the next day, he was cleared of all blame
for the accident. The account of the inquest published in
the Pantagraph mentioned that 'Adlai Stevenson, prostrated
with grief, was unable to be present/'
What effect the accident in 1912 had upon Adlai Steven-
son's character is a matter of surmise. But between the time it
happened and the winter of 1952, no one spoke of it to
him, and he spoke of it to no one. This was established by
William Glasgow, the Time correspondent who prepared the
research for the cover story in which the accident was not
mentioned. In Bloomington, Glasgow heard rumors that
the governor had once been involved in some sort of myster-
ious mishap. He expected to get details from the Governor's
close friends in Chicago. None of them had ever heard of
the affair. He made further inquiries in Bloomington and
finally read the account of the accident in the Pantograph.
Glasgow felt hesitant about questioning the Governor on the
subject but finally told him what he had heard and said that
he needed to know all the facts.
"Stevenson/' Glasgow said recently, "looked away for a
moment and then said: 'You know you are the first person
who has talked to me about that since it happened and this
is the first time I have spoken of it to anyone' I asked the
Governor whether he minded telling me the story. 'No/ said
Stevenson, Til tell you everything I can remember about it/
Then he told me the whole story, in a matter of fact way/'
The Governor told the story substantially as it has been
Before the accident, Stevenson had spent most of his
winters in the South with his mother and his delicate and
aging grandfather Davis. Summers were spent at the ram-
bling old Davis house at the lake resort of Charlevoix,
Michigan. Davis was a Quaker who had come out west as a
young man and landed in Bloomington. When Lincoln made
Fell a paymaster in the Union Army, Fell took Davis south
with him as his clerk; and Davis later married Fell's daughter,
Eliza. After the war, he bought and built up the Bloomington
Pantagraph (meaning "Write everything"). A great admirer
of Robert Burns, Davis read his poems to his grandson as
soon as the latter was capable of understanding human
speech, and followed them up with selections from Bret
Harte and Lewis Carroll. The Stevenson grandparents also
summered at Charlevoix. They were a more formidable
couple, who called each other "Mr." and "Mrs." and were
regularly called on by notables like William Jennings Bryan,
ADLAI E. STEVENSON
when they passed through that part of the land. Young
Stevenson often called on them also and formed an early taste
for associating with the great and near great*
Lewis Stevenson was a health addict who invented a soya
bean coffee substitute, excercised with dumb-bells and fed
his children orange juice, then a dietary rarity. Mrs. Stevenson
was a fond mother. Her pet name for her son, made partly
by switching one of the consonants in his real one, was
"Laddie/' She, too, provided copious readings from Scott,
Dickens and Thackeray and gave him lessons at home until
he was nine. When he finally got to school, he was thus a
newcomer to a previously integrated group and, as such,
obliged to fight for rank. In 1912, the Stevensons spent a
year in Switzerland where the children attended a school in
Lausanne. There, as a newcomer who did not even know the
language in which the lessons were given, he found himself
in an intensified version of the same position.
After finishing grade school in Bloomington, young Adlai
was sent to the high school at Bloomington's twin town of
Normal, which functioned as a sort of practice field for the
teachers attending the State Normal University founded by
his great-grandfather Fell. At Normal, Stevenson was prepar-
ing to enter Princeton, which he had selected as an alma
mater for family reasons. Adlai Osborne had graduated there
in 1768. Its Theological Seminary had also been attended by
his great grandfather Dr. Lewis Warner Green, a famous
nineteenth-century pedagogue and Kentucky liberal, who
freed his numerous slaves as soon as he inherited them and
served as president of several Presbyterian institutions
including Centre College, Kentucky, of whose first graduat-
ing class he had Leen one of the two members. The efforts
of the Fell academy to enable young Stevenson to matriculate
at Princeton were a lamentable failure. The sum of Steven-
son's marks in his first three college board examinations was
insufficient to have given him a passing grade in any one
of them. His father concluded that Normal was a misnomer
either for the school or for his son and sent the latter off to
Choate, an Eastern preparatory institution noted for its high
At Choate, cast in his customary role of late-coming
stranger, Stevenson, who had already acquired the family
knack for writing generally, and, for reporting in particular,
quickly observed that the road to renown lay not in further
fisticuffs but in heeling the Choate News, an unusually
handsome and Pant&grapMike prep-school journal. He
"heeled" the board, made the paper and was elected editor-
in-chief and president of his class for what should have been
his third and final year. By this time, however, the U. S. had
entered World War I and Choate sixth formers were scam-
pering off to enlist. Stevenson finished the school year of
1918 and then enlisted in the United States Naval Reserve
unit at Princeton.
In the first world war, the shortage of naval personnel was
less acute than in World War II but the shortage of ships
was more acute. At landlocked Princeton, Stevenson put in
most of his time marching up and down Nassau Street with
his fellow apprentice seamen, learning the nautical terms
for floors, doors and stairways, and rowing up and down
Carnegie Lake in a whaleboat. Even the whaleboats were in
short supply and some seamen had to sit on the bank. While
ADLAI E. STEVENSON
there, lest any of their time be wasted, an admiral who had
sailed in wooden ships taught them to tie knots in rope.
Before they got a chance to utilize these skills, hostilities
What the Choate News is to Choate and the Pantagraph
to Bloomington, the Daily Princetonian is to Princeton.
Stevenson competed for a position on the board in his sopho-
more year, won it in the first competition and eventually
became the paper's managing editor, as well as an elected
member of the senior council. In the senior poll for "Biggest
Politician/' he placed third. Instead of fraternities or secret
societies, Princeton has eating clubs for upperclassmen. Along
with several of his fellow Princetonian board members,
Stevenson joined Quadrangle, generally considered one of
the best. In the relaxed twenties, Princetonian academic
convention called for getting what was called "a gentleman's
third group," i.e., passing marks. In his studies, principally
English and U. S., or family, history, Stevenson subscribed
to it. According to Time, meek demeanor caused him to get
the nickname of "Rabbit." According to Stevenson, Rabbit
was less a genuine nickname than an insulting appellation
applied to him by his room-mates, William Ellery Hale and
H. Hamilton Hackney, because of his enthusiastic manner of
devouring lettuce, carrots, celery and other garden provender.
Of the two explanations, the Governor's is more plausible.
When eating a forkful of salad, Stevenson still has a distinctly
leporine look. His eyes bulge, his jaws work rapidly, his nose
twitches and his ears wiggle slightly. Stevenson's favorite
rabbit food is the tomato. The Governor likes tomatoes so
much that whenever possible he eats them boiled, broiled or
stewed for lunch, dinner or both every day and sometimes
for breakfast also, in addition to using copious helpings of
ketchup as a relish, washed down with a sort of highball
made of tomato juice and yogurt.
Another frequent canard about Stevenson's education is
that he flunked out of Harvard Law School What really
happened was more complicated. During school and college
vacations Stevenson had made several trips to Europe with
his family or classmates and two trips to the far West. After
his last year at Princeton, he and a classmate named Ralph
Goodwin drove in the latter s Jordan roadster to spend another
summer on a ranch in Wyoming. Ranch life proved much to
their liking. Stevenson and Goodwin decided to stay on in
the West, began looking at property and presently found
some they thought would suit them. When Stevenson wrote
to tell his father of the new turn his career had taken, Lewis
Stevenson failed to cooperate. He replied that if Stevenson did
not report back on time to attend Harvard Law School, some-
one would come to fetch him. At Harvard Law School,
Stevenson got passing marks but, unlike the later generation
of embryo New Dealers who sat mesmerized by the peda-
gogic wizardry of the renowned Felix Frankfurter, Stevenson
never met Frankfurter and never put his heart in it. After
his second year at Harvard, the death of one of his uncles
posed a practical legal problem which gave Stevenson a valid
excuse for playing truant from the law school.
The will of Stevenson's Grandfather Davis had provided
that the shares in the Pantagra^h be held in life estate by his
children and then divided between their children, of whom
there were five. Two were Adlai Stevenson and his sister. The
ADLAI . STEVENSON
other three were their Merwin cousins, cousins also of Ruth
Mary Merwin who, however, had not been a Davis grand-
child. Helen Davis Stevenson's brother, Hibbard O. Davis,
had managed the Pantagraph since their father's death in
1911. Hibbard Davis's death however raised the question of
whether Mrs. Stevenson and her sister Mrs. Merwin should
inherit equal shares, which would have given the two Steven-
son heirs as much as the three Merwins, or whether each
grandchild was to receive an equal share, which would have
meant that the three Merwins got sixty percent and the two
Stevensons forty. At a family conclave it was decided to
institute a friendly suit to settle the matter. Pending the
outcome of the suit, young Stevenson and his cousin, Davis
C. Merwin could learn about running the paper, on the
editorial and business side respectively.
Stevenson spent a couple of years on the paper in various
editorial capacities but, by the time the courts ruled that the
Stevenson and Merwin families should have equal shares of
the ownership, his interest in becoming a newspaper editor
had waned. He decided to finish up his law course and,
having fallen a year behind his classmates who had already
graduated from Harvard, he entered the law school at North-
western University and took his degree there in 1926.
Another cousin, Loring Merviin, still runs the Pantagraph,
along independent Republican lines. Stevenson still owns
roughly twenty-five percent of the company but resigned as
a director and vice President after being elected Governor.
Confronted by the fact that his formal schooling was defi-
nitely over, Stevenson decided to Lave a last look at Europe
before settling down to practice law in Chicago. Starting
with Switzerland, which, had opened his eyes to the pleasur-
able benefits of travel, he had by now covered most of" the
beaten tracks from Scandinavia to the toe of Italy. He wanted
to go somewhere new, and hit on Russia. Foreign visitors
to the Soviet Union were not then being welcomed by the
Intourist plan installed in the thirties. In order to effect an
entry, Stevenson got Hearst INS and Pantograph, credentials
as a foreign correspondent. He planned to get a great scoop
by interviewing Finance Minister Chicherin on the subject
of the then highly controversial New Economic Policy.
Chicherin was a clamlike ex-diplomat who had proved im-
mune to the blandishments of more experienced foreign
correspondents. Stevenson thought he might loosen up for
a young novice who had come all the way from Chicago.
The first thing Stevenson needed was a visa. In Wash-
ington the Russian embassy said this would take time. He
could pick it up in London. In London, the visa was not
ready. He was told to pick it up in Paris. Paris said Vienna:
Vienna said Belgrade. Belgrade said Budapest. Budapest said
Bucharest. Bucharest said Constantinople. In Constantinople,
Stevenson went to the consulate for eight days in a row. Each
day he heard that there was no news about the visa. On the
ninth day he went sightseeing. On the tenth day he went
back to the consulate. "Where have you beenX' asked the
Russian consul. "We have been looking for you. Here is your
Equipped with a visa, the next problem was to get to
Moscow. By bribing a boatman to row him out to its anchor-
ADLAI E. STEVENSON
age, Stevenson managed to scramble on board an ancient
Italian freighter which was just leaving the harbor. His
cabin mate was an aging Italian diplomat who passed the
time shooting at seagulls from a deck chair on the stern.
At Batum, all Stevenson's books, including Bernard Pares*
Russian history were confiscated and the diplomat helped
him catch a train for Tiflis. From Tiflis, he made his way
to Baku. At Baku, he boarded a wagon-lit for Moscow, via
Kiev and Rostov. This time his room-mate was a bushy-
bearded Bolshevik with whom he passed nine intimate days
without exchanging a syllable.
Having arrived in Moscow, where the first thing he not-
iced were homeless children fighting to lick the cobblestones
where someone had spilled some jam, Stevenson presented
himself at the Foreign Office and explained his mission. He
was told to come back the next morning. The next morning
he presented himself again. He was told to come back the
next morning. This continued for four weeks during which
Stevenson passed his afternoons in less monotonous fashion.
He lived in a house run by two middle-aged Quaker ladies
which was also a favorite meeting place for members of the
correspondents 7 colony. This included the late H. R. Knicker-
bocker on his first assignment, Junius Wood of the Chicago
News and Walter Duranty of the New York Times, then at
the outset of his notable career. Stevenson roamed about
town with them and called on surviving relatives of some
White Russian emigres whom he had known in Chicago.
One of Stevenson's Chicago Russian friends was Prince
Nicholas Galitzine whose sister later became Mrs. Lester
Armour. Galitzine had asked him to look up his aunt, the
Countess Anastasia Galitzine, who Lad been a lady-in-wait-
ing at the court of the last Czarina. Stevenson did so and
found the countess in a fifth-floor room of a run-down tene-
ment where she shared a hathrooxn with a score of other tenants.
Stevenson's visit put her life in jeopardy but she was glad
to see him notwithstanding. She greeted him in English,
acquired from her governess, with an apology for her cos-
tume, a court dress with leg-of-mutton sleeves, dating from
the Edwardian era. "Please excuse these rags," said the
Countess, "I am getting to the bottom of my trunk."
Unlike Stevenson's visa, his appointment with Chicherin
was never forthcoming. After a month of daily calls at the
Foreign Office, he left without it but with a twenty-five year
start on many of his later colleagues in the diplomatic world,
insofar as intimate, first-hand knowledge of Soviet Russia
was concerned. This knowledge stood Stevenson in good
stead in 1946 when he was largely responsible for running
the United Nations Preparatory Commission meeting in
London. His job called for frequent talks with Gromyko
who perhaps felt that Stevenson's sophistication about con-
ditions in Russia, gave them a common bond. They became
so friendly that Gromyko even came to dine at Stevenson's
house and exchanged repartee with him. Stevenson made a
speech in which he said that if one compared the U. N. to a
baby born in San Francisco, then the object of the London
meeting was to provide it with clothes and equipment.
"One question," said Gromyko, "When does the baby get
ACCORDING to popular theory, U. S. presidents start
at the bottom of the social and economic ladder and clamber
to the top by sheer ability. This theory is pleasing but un-
tenable. A few presidents like Jackson, Lincoln and Truman
lacked early environmental advantages. They are exceptions
who prove the rule, exemplified by most of the others, that
presidents spring from the mansion rather than the modest
To conclude that this makes the ascent an easy one would,
of course, also be unwarranted. People who start at the bot-
tom of the social ladder attract much favorable notice when
they climb up a rung or two. People who start near the top
or even half way up usually have to descend before they can
even start to climb. Even after climbing quite a distance, they
only get back where they started not a feat to summon
much applause. A young man who bears the name of cel-
ebrated forebears is at a further disadvantage. It took Frank-
lin Roosevelt two decades to live down his distant kinship
with Theodore. As for Theodore Roosevelt's own son and
namesake, the late Theodore Jr., he was tripped at the out-
set by a famous Rollin Kirby cartoon which appeared when
he ran for the governorship of New York in 1924. This
showed huge pits made by a pair of seven-league boots
crossing the sands of time. Theodore Jr. was a midget, lost
in one of the pits. The caption said: "Following his fathers
In addition to the handicap of a well-known name, Stev-
enson had inherited another one. Lewis Stevenson was a
Presbyterian Democrat. As though this were an insufficiently
contradictory mixture, his wife came from a family of Unit-
arian Republicans. Their marriage the most spectacular
Bloomington social event of its year had been made even
more notable by its Montague-Capulet politico-religious as-
pects. Stevenson, who says, "I was a compromise from the
outset/' had been brought up in his mother s faith and his
father s party. His path in Chicago's business world might
have been smoother had the process been reversed. Most
of the nation's top business communities are strongly pro-
Republican. Chicago's, whose thinking is dominated by the
Tribune, is more so than most. Stevenson's position in 1927
when he joined the city's oldest law firm, Cutting, Moore
and Sidley, was that of a one-man ideological Fifth Column.
Fortunately for Stevenson, politics did not count for
much in 1927 though even if they had, his temperament
might have enabled him to profit from a situation which
was in some ways analogous to the one he had encountered
often in his school days. Under the pressure of new and
adverse circumstances, his conscience, always reasonably
clear, now began to shine like a mirror. He worked a sixty-
hour, forty-dollar week, and his personality expanded,
prompting him to take a lively part in the lively social doings
of the era. Ellen Borden was one of the most eminently mar-
riageable, as well as one of the most attractive young ladies
ADLAI E. STEVENSON
on the Chicago social scene. Her wedding to Stevenson in
December 1928 was one of the top events of that Chicago
The causes of the Stevensons' divorce in 1949 while some-
what puzzling, appear to derive chiefly from incompatibility
due to increasingly divergent interests. Mrs. Stevenson's tastes
lie in the world of art and literature. While Eastern politicoes
were trying unsuccessfully to get Stevenson to Washington last
April, Mrs. Stevenson was in Washington trying successfully
to get Dylan Thomas, the Welsh poet, to visit Chicago,
where Thomas gave a reading in the Arts Club lounge.
When Mrs. Stevenson got her divorce in Las Vegas a year
after her husband's election the stated reason was that she
disliked public life. This was a simplification but perhaps
an adequate one. No other persons, and no scandal whatso-
ever, affected the legal proceedings. Stevenson, who opposes
divorce generally, was shocked and saddened but not surprised.
The divorce, accompanied by a substantial settlement, was
handled without rancor or undue publicity. It had been
preceded by twenty years of apparently happy marriage.
At Cutting, Moore and Sidley, a conservative firm en-
gaged in a corporate and general practice which included al-
most everything except divorces, criminal trials, and patents,
Stevenson got a good all-around look at the U. S. economy
from a backstage seat. In the late nineteen-twenties, when
he was in legal slang "carrying books for the senior partners,"
the firm's work often concerned the preparation of new
.issues of securities, which were then being gobbled up faster
than they could be put on the market. After his father's
death early in 1 929, Stevenson had a modest capital with which
to participate cautiously in the national mania for specula-
tion. In due course, lie lost most of his profits but the firm
was kept even busier than before, in efforts to repair or
disassemble the wreckage of financial structures it had helped
Illinois was one of the LL S. states hardest hit by the
Depression. Where Easterners had concentrated on common
stocks, Mid-Westerners had always invested heavily in farm
mortgages. When the bottom dropped out of everything, it
expropriated not only the mortgagees but also the mortgage-
holders. The major single catastrophe in Chicago's urban
financial world was the thunderous collapse of Samuel
InsulFs utility and holding companies. Like many other
Chicago law firms, Stevenson's was called upon to help pick
up the pieces. Salvage jobs on farm mortgages and urban
bond issues gave Stevenson an all-around inside familiarity
with the Depression and its causes. Its consequences were
spectacularly evident from his window on La Salle Street,
in the breadlines and the swarms of unemployed and home-
less, sleeping under bridges.
In managing numerous farms in three states, Stevenson's
father had had control of what amounted to a miniature
department of agriculture. His methods, if not actually exper-
imental, were progressive and advanced. He tinkered with
new kinds of crop rotation, grew huge quantities of soy-
beans, and enrolled thirty or forty of the tenant farmers
under his administration in University of Illinois agricultural
short-courses. One of Lewis Stevenson's close friends and fel-
low farm-philosophers was George Peek who, in 1933, was
called to Washington by his friend Henry Wallace to organ-
ADLAI E. STEVENSON
ize the Agricultural Adjustment Administration. Adlai
Stevenson, like millions of other Americans, had been deeply
stirred by Franklin Roosevelt's inaugural address in 1933.
Knowing the Depression better than most people, he wanted
to do something to help cure it if he could. When Peek
asked him to come to Washington to render legal aid to the
rapidly expanding AAA, Stevenson responded promptly.
Stevenson's title with the AAA was the high-sounding
one of "special counsel" His duties were those of a sort of
nation-wide county agent. He toured the country holding
hearings and advising regional groups of farmers, ranchers,
orchardists and dairymen how to utilize the Act. Then he re-
turned to Washington to try to work out marketing agreements
based on reports given him by farmers. As far as history was
concerned, Stevenson was unluckier in his associates than Jesse
Fell; another member of the AAA's legal division was a spry
young ex-secretary to Justice Brandeis named Alger Hiss.
By the end of 1933 the AAA was running smoothly and
needed Stevenson's services less than the Federal Alcohol
Control Administration, set up to handle the legal and tax
problems created by the sudden repeal of Prohibition. He
served as its assistant general counsel for eight months and
then went back to Chicago to rejoin his firm which had now
become Sidley, McPherson, Austin and Burgess. There he
presently became a partner whose yearly share of the profits
soon reached eighteen or twenty thousand dollars.
As a governor of Illinois, and as a presidential possibility,
one of Stevenson's principal assets has been his unusual
ability as a speaker. When Stevenson talks extemporaneously
to small gatherings, he is deft, witty and nimble in reply to
questions. When he addresses large audiences on great oc-
casions, his speeches are vigorous in construction, clear in
syntax, and eloquent in delivery. Since he had had no plat-
form training and little experience with audiences, profes-
sional politicians who backed Stevenson in 1948 wondered
where their candidate had acquired his proficiency and sup-
posed he had been born with it. In fact, like Demosthenes,
he acquired eloquence by long and diligent practice. Instead
of a beach, Stevenson trained on an organization called the
Chicago Council on Foreign Relations, of which he was
president for one term before he went to Washington and
for two more when he returned.
As an inveterate traveler and student of Europe, Steven-
son had joined the council soon after his arrival in Chicago,
but his election to the presidency posed a problem. Up to
that time, his only effort to make himself heard in public
had occurred on one of his rare appearances in a courtroom,
as counsel in a small case involving an employee of the
Wrigley chewing gum company. The judge, a political ap-
pointee who perceived a chance to strike a blow for the
underdog, asked the nervous Stevenson, "Who did you say
retained you, young man?" "P. K. Wrigley/* Stevenson qua-
vered. "I don't care if it was John D. Rockefeller and J. P.
Morgan," thundered the magistrate. "Don't expect special
treatment from this court!"
As president of the council, Stevenson was not called upon
to be a Cicero. All he had to do was stand up after a council
banquet and introduce the speaker of the evening, in a few
ADLAI E. STEVENSON
well-chosen phrases. The idea that he would do it in a few
ill-chosen phrases was what tortured the conscientious Stev-
enson. The night before his first appearance he wrote out a
speech, memorized it carefully, rehearsed it in private
and then, lest he forget it, wrote out the first sentence of
each paragraph on a little card which he carried in his pocket.
Except that they do not memorize their speeches, most ex-
perienced after-dinner orators follow the same system.
Stevenson's apparent self-possession and his practiced pro-
fessional glances at the little card in the palm of his hand
convinced his audience that he was a veteran at the game.
The speech turned out extremely well and Stevenson fol-
lowed the same system thereafter, with fewer cards and even
more success. Under his leadership, the organization grew
as rapidly as the D.A.R. had grown under that of his grand-
mother. From a miscellaneous clique of trippers and intellec-
tuals, whose intermittent soirees were poorly attended even
by these, it became a major civic organization whose bi-
monthly luncheons regularly attracted a thousand or so of
the city's bigwigs.
No less important to the growth of the organization than
the president's skill on the platform, which increased with
practice, was the state of the world. This had gradually be-
come a matter of grave concern, even to Chicago. As pres-
ident of the Council on Foreign Relations, Stevenson was
placed in the advantageous role of host to visiting European
dignitaries whom he had theretofore known only by reputa-
tion, as an inconspicuous traveler in the countries they gov-
erned. He was also well situated to make advantageous con-
tacts among Chicago's more influential kindred spirits who
included Frank Knox, the publisher o the Chicago Daily
News, and star members of his staff, like Paul Scott Mowrer,
who came from Bloomington also. When Roosevelt, build-
ing a coalition cabinet to help establish a bipartisan foreign
policy, tapped the Republican Knox for Secretary of the
Navy in 1940, Knox asked Stevenson to serve under him as
soon as he felt he could do more good in Washington than
in Chicago, where the reflex reaction to the menace of
Adolph Hitler had been the America First Committee.
The day Paris fell, Stevenson became Chicago Chairman
of the William Allen White Committee to Defend America
by Aiding the Allies. This amounted to a greatly enlarged
projection of his job as president of the council. He became
a municipal Trojan Horse of Internationalism in the prime
citadel of Isolationism. Stevenson brought people like
Wendell Willkie, Carl Sandburg and Dorothy Thompson
to address mass meetings, one of which, in 1941, filled the
Chicago Stadium. Finally, in the summer of that year, he got
a phone call from Knox. Says Stevenson: "Knox said, 'Every-
one else around Washington has a lawyer and I guess I
ought to have one too!' So we packed up and went down
Prior to his arrival in Washington, Stevenson had been a
close student of history, well situated to scrutinize events
like the Depression, the New Deal and the start of World
War II. As an actor in it, however, his role a unique one
for a member of his family was that of supernumerary. On
his arrival in Washington, this sorry situation was suddenly
and radically altered. Stevenson found himself immediately
ADLAI E. STEVENSON
in the position of the understudy who has to walk on in
the star's part, with no time to learn the lines. The way in
which this came about constitutes a bit of Rooseveltiana
which has somehow thus far slipped through the fine-spun
meshes of the war memoirs.
The first job to which Knox assigned Stevenson was
preparing legal machinery whereby the Navy, in case it be-
came necessary, could take over the strike-bound Kearney
shipyards in New Jersey, then building essential warships.
As Stevenson worked on the papers, the strike continued
and the need for the ships became more acute. When he
finished the plan which covered rsponsibilities of manage-
ment, contractual continuances and other legal contingencies
the time for the Navy to utilize it was at hand. The only
trouble was that the papers required an executive order
signed by the President, who was somewhere off the
coast of Newfoundland, returning from the meeting with
Churchill at which they had drafted the Atlantic Charter on
a battleship. Knox called Stevenson to his office and told him
to fly to Quonset, Rhode Island, there get another plane,
fly out to meet the cruiser that was bringing the President
home, get him to sign the executive order and then fly back
to Washington. This would not only save a day in making
the papers effective but would also keep the whole affair
out of reach of the reporters, who did not know the Pres-
Stevenson was on the point of departure when Knox
called him in a second time. This time Admiral Nimitz was
also in the Secretary's office.
"Adlai," said Knox, "the Admiral has a message he wants
you to take to tKe President and deliver to him in person.
Go ahead with the message, Admiral/'
"You are to deliver this message to the President and to
no one else/' said Nimitz. "Tell him that I have learned
today, from a heretofore reliable source, that Stalin has
opened negotiations with Hitler/'
Since this meant, in effect, that Germany had won the
war, Stevenson was understandably startled.
"Can I write that down, sir?" he inquired.
"There must be nothing on paper!" said Nimitz, sternly.
"Can I repeat it to you, to make sure I have it right?"
Stevenson recited the message, not once but several times.
There was no doubt that he had got it straight. Nimitz and
Knox cautioned him again that it was to be delivered to
Roosevelt personally, and to Roosevelt alone. No time was
to be wasted in doing so. Stevenson then left by plane for
At Quonset, he ran into his first difficulties. The weather
had closed in. No planes were taking off for anywhere. To
find a ship off the Maine coast was out of the question.
Stevenson went to the admiral in charge and tried to ex-
plain that his mission was of great importance and would
brook no interruption. The admiral had seen flurried civ-
ilians before, but finally relented somewhat. He said to an
aide: "Let this man have a small plane to fly to Rockland,
Maine. He might get there by the time the President
At Rockland, Stevenson's difficulties increased because of
the delay at Quonset. From the plane, he could see the Pres-
ident's ship already at the dock and the engine of his special
ADLAI E. STEVENSON
train getting up steam in the station. The pilot landed in a
pasture. Stevenson ran from the plane to the highway, hitch-
hiked a ride into town with a startled old lady and encoun-
tered a six-block traffic jam. Before he could reach the station
on foot, the train pulled out. He hitch-hiked back to the
airport where the pilot pointed out the train's next stop was
Portland, a short distance by air and a long one by rail.
Stevenson could at least get there in time to discharge his
At Portland, Stevenson did indeed reach the station well
ahead of train time. The trouble now was that another even
huger crowd than Rockland's had gathered to meet the Pres-
ident. Maine constables were not impressed by Stevenson's
panting assurances that he had a vital message for the chief
executive. He was ordered to stand back. Finally, Stevenson
elbowed his way through the mob on the platform and
caught sight of an acquaintance, Florida's Senator Claude
"Well, Adlai, what's the trouble?" asked Pepper. Steven-
son told him, not about the Nimitz message but about the
Kearney strike papers. Pepper, who himself wanted to board the
train to greet the President, was only mildly impressed but said
that he would see what could be done. When the train came
in, the Senator, who knew the secret service officers, boarded
it immediately. Stevenson was relegated to the station plat-
form, where he waited for fifteen minutes, expecting to see
the train depart at any second. Finally, Pa Watson ap-
peared at the door of the presidential car. Stevenson ex-
plained to Pa that he had some papers for the President.
'Well, can't you give them to me?" asked Roosevelt's
kindly aide, who had never seen Stevenson before. Stevenson
said no. Pa Watson disappeared. Five more minutes slowly
passed. Pa Watson reapppeared and told Stevenson the Presi-
dent would see him.
"I got into the car," says Stevenson, "and what do you
think I found? There was F.D.K sitting as relaxed as you
please, just as though ten thousand people were not shout-
ing for him on the platform, and just as though he hadn't
just settled the world's future with Churchill, and just
as though I wasn't bringing the worst news in world history.
There were a lot of other people there Marvin Mclntyre,
Harry Hopkins, Mrs. Roosevelt and one of the secretaries as
well as Pa Watson. They were all having a quiet little bite
of supper. F.D.R. looked up when I went in.
" Well, Adlai, how are you?' he asked. He had known
my father in the first war and I had met him once or twice,
years before and very briefly.
"I said I was all right but that I had some papers to show
" 'That's fine, Adlai/ he said, let's have a look at them/
"I opened up my brief-case first and got out the Kearney
shipyard papers. I showed him the letter of txansmittal and
all the rest of it, and pointed out where he was supposed
to sign. He looked them over for a minute and then said:
" Well, yes . . . Now, Adlai you just leave these with me,
and I'll read them over. We'll have a meeting at the White
House in the morning. You fly back and arrange it. Tell
the secretary I'd like to see Myron Taylor and the Attorney
General at nine o'clock and you can be there too/
ADLAI E. STEVENSON
t, Mr. President/ I said, 'these are supposed to be
signed right now!'
" 'I think it will work out ail right this way/ said the
" Well/ I said, 'if you say so, I guess it will be O.K/ It
sounds impossible that even 1 could talk like such a fool but
I was so nervous I hardly knew what I was saying mostly,
I suppose, because I hadn't yet said the really important
thing I had on my mind. I could see he was waiting for me
to leave, and I had to come out with something. The talk
went about like this:
" 'I have something else to tell you, Mr. President/
"'Do you, Adlai? What is it?'
"'Well, Mr. President, it's from Admiral Nimitz. He
said to tell you . . . alone/
" 'Oh, I think you could tell me here, Adlai/
" 'Can I write it down for you to read?'
" 'Why certainly, Adlai/
"He gave rue a menu and I wrote on the back of it. 'Ad-
miral Nimitz has heard from a heretofore reliable source
that Stalin today started negotiations with Hitler/
Then I gave him back the menu. He read it carefully and
then looked up at me.
" 'Adlai/ he said, 'do you believe this?'
"Now that was one thought that had just never crossed
my mind. I said: Why ... I don't know, Mr. President/
" 'I don t believe it/ said F.D.R. " Tin not worried at all.
Are you worried, Adlai?'
"I said I guessed I wasn't. Then I got up to go. On the
way out, in my embarrassed confusion, I walked right into
a closed door, thus bending my crooked nose some more. I
flew back to Washington, woke Secretary Knox to tell him
about the meeting at the White House and we all went over
there at nine o'clock. The crowning humiliation to me was
that the President hadn't even opened my precious Kearney
shipyard papers. He pulled them out and settled the whole
business in ten minutes. As for the negotiations between
Stalin and Hitler, the President was, of course, right again.
Admiral Nimitz's source was unreliable that time. We never
heard another word about it/'
STEVENSON'S account of his meeting with Roosevelt in
Portland is the kind of story he enjoys telling on himself,
embellished with numerous details to show how badly he
managed things. While these stories are entertaining, their
comic effect often derives from total incongruity with the
truth. In the case of the visit to Roosevelt it would have
been a sad mistake indeed if Stevenson had honored the
idea that a messenger should make haste in accord with his
own estimate of the importance of his tidings. As matter of
fact, he had handled the assignment admirably; and far from
being, as Stevenson now says he suspected at the time,
highly amused at his nervous over-eagerness, Roosevelt had
been favorably impressed both by the Kearney shipyard
papers and by Stevenson's arduous journey, which he heard
about from other sources later.
Roosevelt's high opinion of Stevenson was indicated two
years later when he gave him the assignment of heading a
politico-economic mission to Italy. It was while so engaged that
Stevenson came upon an item in the Stars and Stripes to
which he attributes in large part his later decision to
enter politics. "It was a public opinion poll in which seven
out of ten American parents said they didn't want their
boys to enter public life," says Stevenson. ''Think of it! Boys
could suffer and die in their cold, muddy, bloody, campaign
for the things we believe in but parents didn't want their
children to work for those same things. I decided then that
if I ever had a chance, I'd go into public life/'
Stevenson's handling of the Kearney shipyard situation also
had important repercussions. For one thing, the legal ma-
chinery devised to apply on that occasion served as the
pilot-plan for some sixty other instances in which the
government was obliged to take over essential plants in war-
time. For another, it got Stevenson into the area of the Navy's
labor relations in which, as a liberalizing catalytic agent
between the admirals and the unions, he did much to im-
prove them and thus obviate the necessity for even more
such seizures. From labor relations, Stevenson progressed to
the more intricate problem of the Navy's race relations. As
a behind-the-scenes specialist in this field, he helped to
modify the tradition whereby Negroes in the Navy tad
previously served mainly as mess-boys.
In addition to starting Stevenson off on the right foot with
the President, the Portland trip set the pace for the rest of
his war-time activities. In Washington, Stevenson was given
an office next to Knox's from which he fulfilled the role less of
an under or assistant secretary than, according to observers
at the time, of a sort of alter-ego. Knox was an ebullient,
super-energetic executive and one who liked to do things
with appropriate fanfare. He was also an ardent exercise
devotee who tried to keep up his health by playing golf on
the hottest days of the stifling Washington summer. Steven-
son was called upon to write Knox's speeches, see swarms of
his visitors, especially from outside the service, sit in as his
ADLAI E. STEVENSON
deputy at meetings of the WPB, the BEW, the OWI and
numerous other war-torn alphabetical agencies, brief him for
congressional committee hearings including those of the
Truman Committee that investigated war production, talk
to the press and otherwise function as an all-around trouble-
shooter. Stevenson's duties however were not confined to the
capital On the contrary, he probably covered more ground
during the war than anyone else concerned with the possible
exceptions of a few DPs, the late Ernie Pyle and Kilroy.
Stevenson's war experiences started in the Navy Depart-
ment early in the evening of December 7, 1941. His position
on that momentous occasion was, as usual, a central one, in
Knoxs outside office, through which Admiral Stark, the
Chief of Naval Operations, and other senior officers passed
on their way to give the bad news to the Secretary who was
passing it on by telephone to Franklin Roosevelt at the White
House. Shortly thereafter his role became less sedentary.
Stevenson's longest excursion into the war zones took place
in 1942, in the form of an inspection tour. The area in-
spected was the entire Pacific theater and the tour involved
adventures, even before Knox, Nimitz, Stevenson, aides and
other officers had left Pearl Harbor. The plane, a four-mo-
tored PB2Y3, no sooner got seventy feet into the air than
one engine quit. When the pilot tried to put the plane down
again, the sudden torque created by uneven power caused
one wing to dip into the water which in turn caused Admiral
Nimitz's head to hit the ceiling. With blood matting his
silky white hair, the Admiral crawled out the escape hatch
and clung to the wing. The other distinguished passengers
were less fortunate. The portly Knox, next to attempt escape,
got stuck in the hatch and had to be ejected gradually by
strenuous prodding from the rear. A crash boat removed the
survivors, who included everyone on board, and put them
on another PB2Y3. This one smashed a pontoon at Midway.
During the party's visit to Canton Island, a Japanese sub-
marine surfaced and fired a few rounds at the local head-
quarters. This suggested that the tourists had attracted even
the attention of the enemy, as did a raid by Jap bombers on
the normally peaceful harbor of Espiritu Santo, during their
one-night stay there. The group touched at Fiji, Noumea,
Palmyra and half a dozen now half-forgotten period place-
names before getting back to Washington in February, 1943.
Stevenson's Pacific tour had been preceded by a tour of
the Carribean and Canal Zone. It was followed by domestic
investigations along both coast lines. These were a warm-up
for his major wartime travels in Algeria, Tunis, Sicily, Italy,
Gibralter, Liberia, England, France, Germany, Luxembourg,
Holland and Belgium. On his first European tour, which
started in the summer of 1943, after Mussolini's government
had fallen and Italy had joined the Allies, Stevenson headed
a Foreign Economic Administration mission which had three
objectives. One was to report on how best to keep the Italian
economy going and the Italians from starving, while the
Allied armies fought their way to the richer industrial North.
Another was to report on how to re-establish local govern-
ment in a nation where all the experienced administrators
were presumably Fascists. The third was to report on what
elements could be counted to help with these objectives gen-
ADLAI E. STEVENSON
erally and whether the House of Savoy could be counted on
in particular. The three other memhers of the mission were
an industrial engineer, an agronomist, and an economist
who spoke Italian. Stevenson had been chosen because it
seemed advisable to have someone in charge who, while not
in one of the services had enough service prestige to command
cooperation in military areas where civilian VIP's sometimes
As things developed, Stevenson's experience in VIP mobil-
ity picked up on his previous travels, and his peacetime
familiarity with the terrain and its denizens, proved more
important than his Navy credentials. When he stopped at
the St. George Hotel in Algiers, the Allied GHQ in North
Africa where he had spent part of his honeymoon some years
before, General Eisenhower was too busy to receive him.
The credentials were left with his Chief of Staff, Bedell
Smith, and Stevenson took off for Palermo. His meeting with
the Commander in Chief eventually took place several weeks
later in the corridor of an office building in Naples, where
Eisenhower was conducting an inspection tour. Stevenson
had got across Sicily and up to Naples through the good
offices of the Naval commander at Palermo who, having
identified him as Knox s assistant, thought he might rate a
command car and two blue-jackets.
Eisenhower said, "Well, well, I heard you were here.
How's everything going?"
Stevenson said everything was going as well as could be
expected. He and the General parted on friendly terms, and
have not seen each other since, Stevenson never did retrieve
his papers though he at least got a chance to look for them
two years later when, on his UN assignment in London,
he inherited the General's GHQ in Grosvenor Square.
Stevenson's report on Italy, a one-hundred and twenty-
two page secret document, covering agriculture, industry,
communications, currency, transportation and import prob-
lems, was generally regarded in Washington as a model of
its type. It served first as the basis for high-level policy
decisions in Italy, and later for analogous ones in the case
of Germany. When he finished collecting material for this
Stevenson made plans to go home. The journey included a
stop in Dakar where he ran into his old friend, Admiral
In Italy, Stevenson had seen a lot of Carlo Sforza, the
Italian statesman, whom he had encountered previously in
the Council on Foreign Relations. Glassford suggested that
on the way back to Washington, Stevenson drop in at Liberia,
which was being considered as the possible site of a post-war
port and submarine base, if its harbor facilities proved adapt-
able to the purpose. This struck an echo from the even more
distant past, since Liberia was where Stevenson's great grand-
father and fellow-Princetonian, Dr. Lewis Ward Green, had
sent his slaves when he freed them a century or so before.
Stevenson agreed to go, taking along an old friend named
Wesley Sturges whom he had known in his AAA era and
who later became Dean of the Yale Law School. From
Liberia, Stevenson went back to Washington to furnish Knox
with a postscript on that part of the world and catch his
breath before starting off somewhere else.
As things turned out, he had no chance to catch his
breath before Knox died, on April 29, 1944, of heart failure
ADLAI E. STEVENSON
brought on by overwork and exercise. Knox's successor,
James Forrestal, was a close friend of Stevenson's with
whom he had sometimes sneaked in a set or two of tennis
along with Admiral Jerry Land and whoever they could
get for a fourth, on summer afternoons. However, on the
assumption that the new Secretary would want to appoint
his own assistants, Stevenson resigned and returned to Chi-
cago to help a group of Chicago News employees buy the
paper from the Knox estate with the aid of outside capital
which they asked Stevenson to round up for them.
Stevenson found the capital but his bid was turned down
in favor of a higher one and a month or so later he found
himself on an Army Air Force mission to evaluate strategic
bombing damage in Germany, for guidance in the forthcom-
ing occupation and the subsequent bombing of Japan.
This got him to Spa in time for a meeting with General
Patton that was cut short when General Bradley paid an
unexpected call to discuss a secret matter. The secret matter
was the Battle of the Bulge out of which Stevenson, unaware
that it was going on, drove to Brussels and flew back to Eng-
land in a fog so dense that a guide with a lantern had to walk
in front of the car that took them from the airport, at which
they had made an emergency landing, to the station to catch
a train for London. From London, then reverberating from
V-2 blasts, Stevenson flew back to Libertyville, in time for
Stevenson's second visit to Europe concluded his active
contributions to the waging of World War II. His contribu-
tions toward stopping it, which began shortly afterwards,
were less undramatic. They started with a phone call from
Archibald MacLeish inviting him to take on a trouble-
shooting chore for the State Department. The chore was to
help promote public understanding of the forthcoming
United Nations Conference at San Francisco, scheduled for
April, 1945. Stevenson demurred at first but finally proceeded
to Washington in time to collaborate with MacLeish on the
proclamation announcing the death of President Roosevelt on
April 12th. Stevenson did the research for this document, in
the form of looking up what had been said on previous occa-
sions when chief executives had died in office. MacLeish at-
tended to composing it, for issuance the next day.
Whether Roosevelt's death, at precisely the high water
mark of Allied fortunes, was a final instance of that sense
of advantageous timing of which he was a noted master, or
whether his departure from the scene caused some of the
trouble that soon followed it, is a question for historians to
settle. In any case, no sooner had he been laid to rest than
the nations that had fought a common foe in comparative
compatability began to bicker with each other. The bicker-
ing began as soon as they all sat down to talk about peace
and, so far as the U. S. delegation was concerned, included
internal as well as external disagreements.
The U. S. delegation to San Francisco included Senators
Connally and Vandenberg, Congressmen Eaton and Bloom,
Harold Stassen, John Foster Dulles, Secretary of State
Edward Stettinius and a large staff of experts on the topics
likely to appear on the agenda. As Secretary of State and
Chairman of the U. S. delegation and the Conference,
ADLAI E. STEVENSON
Stettinius had a hard row to hoe. He was just past forty and
the other members, including even Stassen, were not only his
senior in years but mostly men, at least in their own opinion,
of presidential stature. The leadership of the Secretary proved
to be, according to some irritable observers, scarcely more
inspired than his choice for the job had been in the first place
and he was soon being referred to disrespectfully as "Junior"
Junior's difficulties were not confined to his delegation.
The whole population of the U. S., as represented in San
Francisco by correspondents from every paper from the New
York Times to the Plumbers' Gazette, were upset because
they could not find anyone who knew what was going on or,
if he knew, was telling. Unable to get news from their own
delegates, the correspondents had eventually descended to
getting it from others, including Russians. Indignant edi-
torials about this state of things appeared in various papers,
including the Washington Post. The Post's publisher, Eug-
ene Myers, and Junior were living on the same floor of the
Fairmount Hotel. When they met in the corridor, waiting
for an elevator, they came to blows before the car arrived.
To correct these sad conditions, Arthur Krock, the corres-
pondent of the New York Times, offered a sage suggestion.
He said: "Send for Adlai."
When Stevenson arrived early in May, his first move was
to arrange to attend the U.S. delegation's meetings so that he
would be aware of what was going on inside them. His next
move was to establish himself, after the meetings, in Room
576 at the Fairmount, whence he dispensed information to
the correspondents. The correspondents were so thirsty for
news, and Stevenson provided such a lot of it, that Room
576 was crowded day and night. Stevenson's job became
known as Operation Titanic, and so much news leaked out
that U. S. delegation members now began to complain that
they could not talk to themselves without seeing their
thoughts in the headlines. Nonetheless, their pique with
Stevenson was greatly outweighed by satisfaction in their im-
proved notices. Before anyone got around to plugging Opera-
tion Titanic, the conference was over and the delegations
getting ready for the Preparatory Commission meeting in
London, scheduled for the following August.
Stevenson's job at the London meeting was that of deputy
to Stettinius, who having resigned as Secretary of State after
the San Francisco Conference, headed the U. S. delegation
with the rank of ambassador. When he arrived in London
after a pleasant crossing accompanied by the new Secretary
of State James Byrnes, Charles Bohlen, Ben Cohen, Foster
Dulles and other State Department notables en route to the
conference of Foreign Ministers, Stevenson found Stettinius
more in need of medical than diplomatic advice. His gall
bladder was troubling him, among other things, and he
presently returned to the U. S. to have it removed, leaving
Stevenson in charge.
Stevenson's confreres at the commission meeting were
diplomats of wide repute like Philip Noel-Baker and Gladwyn
Jebb of England, Rene Massigli of France, and the urbane
Wellington Koo of China. Since even the representatives
of places like Bolivia or Syria had ambassadorial rank, Steven-
son, as the representative of the most powerful nation of all,
and the one that had instigated the whole affair, was some-
what handicapped by being only a minister. Instead of the
ADLAI E. STEVENSON
suite at Claridge s from which Stettinius had operated, he
and his wife and their two older sons, who went to Harrow
as day scholars, lived in a small converted bomb-damaged
stable, staffed by one elderly female cook.
Possibly the knottiest problem confronting the Preparatory
Commission was that of a permanent site for the U. N. This
involved much wrangling, good natured and otherwise, among
the delegates who found themselves besieged by boosters
from places which considered themselves pre-eminently quali-
fied, from Boston to the Black Hills of South Dakota.
San Francisco, a leading contender for the honor, sent
a handsome brochure outlining its advantages which
included a picture of a line of can-can girls. Gromyko, when
he saw the brochure, which had been left open at this page
for his inspection, raised his eyebrows.
"Gentlemen/' he announced to a group that had gathered
to discuss the subject, "this I did not see in San Francisco/'
While the Foreign Ministers' conference bogged down
in one impasse after another, the meeting of the Preparatory
Commission proceeded, in an atmosphere of comparative
harmony, to cover considerable ground. Its chief impediment
proved to be the Soviet assumption that the world was
divided into three areas; the U. S. S. R. and its satellites, the
British Empire including Western Europe and the U. S.,
including Central and South America. Meanwhile, the
aplomb developed by Stevenson at Foreign Relations Council
banquets came in handy at the round of diplomatic dinners
and receptions with which the delegates supplemented meager
British rations and celebrated their professional reunion.
When the Preparatory Commission adjourned in Decem-
her, Stevenson had three weeks in which to prepare for the
arrival of the U. S. delegation to the first meeting of the
General Assembly, composed of Messrs. Stettinius, Byrnes,
Dulles, Vandenberg, Eaton and Bloom, Mrs. Roosevelt, and a
score or so of foreign service officers and experts including
Alger Hiss, with whom Stevenson had renewed his AAA
acquaintance previously in San Francisco and Washington.
As "senior advisor" to a delegation that stood in need of
lots of advice about almost everything. Stevenson had his
hands full again. Having achieved its main purpose of adopt-
ing the structure proposed by the Commission, selecting a
secretary general and deciding who was to be what on which
of its innumerable committees, the assembly adjourned in
Stevenson's varied and protracted efforts to get the United
Nations organization under way, though largely unpubli-
cized, were undoubtedly one of the few effective accomplish-
ments of U. S. diplomacy since the war. Back in the U. S.,
Stevenson was offered State Department posts including an
under secretaryship and embassies in Brazil or Argentina,
neither of which he had money enough to support. He re-
turned to law practice in Chicago until Truman appointed
him an alternate delegate to the second session of the Gen-
eral Assembly in New York. When that session ended in
November, Stevenson went back to Chicago again, and
practiced law till the next session, in the autumn of 1947.
As the 1947 autumn meeting of the General Assembly
drew to a close, Stevenson felt constrained to decide once
and for all whether he was going to rejoin his law firm in
Chicago, on which he had been paying what amounted to
ADLAI E. STEVENSON
courtesy calls for six years, or whether to strike out into some-
thing new. His mind went back to the report of the public
opinion poll he had seen in Italy, but, if he was to enter
public life, another question arose immediately. This was:
how to do it?
N CONSIDERING a career in politics, Stevenson was behaving
in a characteristically conscientious fashion. His considera-
tions, however, had one serious drawback. They were uni-
lateral. Going into U. S. politics entails getting elected to
something. Getting elected entails the help of practicing
Stevenson's qualifications for getting elected to almost
anything were valid, not to say sensational. Moreover his
record, in the form of distinguished service all over the world,
throughout the greatest crisis in world history, not to men-
tion the similar previous records compiled by a quorum of
his forebears, were written so that all who ran might read*
The only trouble was that politicians rarely run; and they
almost never read anything except the election returns. Thus,
so far as Stevenson's record was concerned, it counted for
nothing. The politicians had never heard of Stevenson.
Possibly the most astute and authoritative Democratic
politician on the Chicago postwar scene was the Chairman
of the Cook County Democratic Committee, a small shrewd
man named Colonel Jacob M. Arvey. Arvey, the son of
immigrants, had grown up in the Loop district, worked as
an errand boy, studied for his law degree in night school,
rounded up votes for district leaders, and been elected to the
ADLAI E. STEVENSON
City Council in 1923. The feat that put him on the
political map occurred during the bitter gubernatorial cam-
paign of 1936, when his ward delivered 29,000 votes to 700
for the opposition. Prior to World War II, Arvey had been
considered a champion at in-fighting in a city noted for
pulling no punches in the precincts. During the war, in
which he had volunteered and served in New Guinea,
two things had happened to Arvey. One was that his invest-
ments at home had prospered enough to make financial in-
centives less compelling than they had been previously.
The other was that like Stevenson, he had apparently done
some idealistic brooding and had reached the conclusion that
the nation needed and deserved some honest public servants.
Arvey was, however, better situated than Stevenson to sup-
ply the deficiency.
The important thing about Arvey's discovery of Steven-
son was not that it came considerably later than the discovery
of Stevenson by disinterested persons in relatively remote
parts of the world like Washington, D. C., San Francisco,
London and Liberia. It was that, in making it, the Colonel
was far ahead of all his Chicago colleagues. The discovery
took place at a luncheon given by Senate Secretary Lester
Biffle late in July of 1947. Arvey was taken to this luncheon
by Illinois' Senator Scott Lucas, whom he had come to con-
sult about naming a U. S. Attorney for the Northern Dis-
trict of Illinois, a job that requires senatorial confirmation.
In addition to Biffle, Lucas, and Arvey, Senator Tom Con-
nally, Secretary Byrnes and one or two others of comparable
national stature were present at the table. The conversation
was general. When Byrnes heard talk about some sort of
Illinois appointment out of the corner of his ear, he dropped
what he was saying and turned to Arvey:
"Don't you people in Illinois know you've got a gold nug-
get out there?" he inquired.
"Who do you mean?" asked Arvey.
"I mean Adlai Stevenson!" said Byrnes.
"Adlai Stevenson? Who's he?" inquired Arvey.
Byrnes and some of the others present then proceeded to
In seeking this enlightenment, Arvey was not entirely
disingenuous. The fact was that he had already made up his
mind about his candidate for the U. S. Attorney's office. It
was Otto Korner Jr., who was afterwards appointed to it.
What Arvey was looking for were bigger fish: candidates to
run for governor and senator in the next year's election.
When Arvey got back to Chicago, he began tactfully to
investigate the rumor he had heard about the nugget. First,
he telephoned his good friend Judge Harry M. Fisher who
was, it turned out, a Stevenson admirer. Fisher said among
other things that Stevenson was "a great liberal" and sug-
gested that further data might be forthcoming from Mrs.
Eleanor Roosevelt, of whom Arvey was an admirer. In due
course a luncheon was arranged by Fisher at which Arvey
and Stevenson met for the first time. Arvey casually asked
Stevenson his views on labor, civil rights, economy and other
controversial state and national issues. Stevenson's replies
impressed him. So did another incident that occurred a few
Stevenson and Arvey were not the only Americans who
had time to do a little serious thinking during the war. An-
ADLAI E. STEVENSON
other such was Louis Kohn, a young Chicago attorney, who
had also served in New Guinea where he sometimes encoun-
tered Arvey, "I used to wonder how I had come to get there/'
says Kohn. "I figured that it was the fault of every American
who had neglected to take an interest in getting good govern-
ment at home. I had neglected it as much as anyone but,
right there, I changed/' Kohn's new interest in international
affairs lead him to attend a meeting of the Council on
Foreign Relations at which Stevenson, himself just back
from England, was the speaker. After the meeting, Kohn
pursued Stevenson to his office, where he urged him to
Stevenson displayed enough interest to cause Kohn to car-
ry the matter further. He went to two influential Chicagoans
who were admirers of Stevenson. One was his close friend
and Lake Forest neighbor, Hermon Dunlap Smith, an insur-
ance executive with whom he now quite often spends week-
ends. The other was Stephen Mitchell, an Irish Catholic
lawyer who knew Stevenson less well but politics better.
The upshot of Kohn's activities was that he, Smith and
Mitchell formed a "Stevenson for Senator Committee." When
they had two dozen or so influential names signed up, they
paid a call on Kohn's New Guinea crony, Colonel Arvey.
By the time he saw Kohn, Smith and Mitchell, Arvey was
partly sold on the idea of proposing Stevenson to his Cook
County Committee for one of the top spots on the ticket.
After further meetings with Stevenson which included a
weekend at Lake Forest with the Smiths, he became entirely
sold. Recommendation by Arvey was tantamount to a nomi-
nation. Now, however, uncertainty developed about which
spot it should be. While he had been investigating Steven-
son, Arvey had also been investigating another promising
politico named Paul Douglas.
Douglas was a University of Chicago Economics professor
who had enlisted in the Marines as an over-age private,
worked his way up to a commission, and seen combat, among
other spots, at Okinawa. The incumbent Republican senator
was an older ex-marine named Curley Brooks whose cam-
paign tactics had always included copious references to his
feats on the battlefields of World War I and his possession
of the Croix de Guerre. Arvey thought Douglas could deal
with Brooks effectively on a marine to marine basis. Further-
more, Douglas was an impassioned orator and a socio-
economic theorist of considerable persuasive powers. These
qualifications, while they would show to advantage in a
legislative body, were qualities which might be wasted in an
administrative post, for which his aptitudes were debatable
anyway. Arvey therefore proposed to run Douglas for the
Senate and Stevenson for governor.
From Stevenson's point of view, this proposal at first
seemed preposterous. His thoughts about entering politics
had been based on the notion that, as a longtime student
and seasoned practitioner in the field of foreign policy, he
might be of some use in the Senate. However, while the
governorship had not crossed his mind, he did not want to
impede Douglas, an old friend whose enlistment he had
helped to facilitate as assistant to the Secretary of the Navy.
The resultant indecision upon Stevenson's part set a record
which was not exceeded by him until he was faced with an
even bigger choice last spring. With a matter of hours to go
ADLAI E. STEVENSON
before the December 31st, 1947 deadline, the decision he
finally reached on this occasion was affirmative.
In putting Stevenson across with other party leaders, Arvey
had certain obvious disadvantages of which the most con-
spicuous was a corollary of the one that he himself had
recently overcome. This was that none of them knew Steven-
son, and that they all knew that few of the voters knew him.
When they looked Stevenson over, their doubts were not
as readily resolved as Arvey s had been, because they lacked
Arvey s influential contacts. The horrible rumor about Ox-
ford was only one of many that the Colonel was obliged to
deal with. Delegations of ward heelers came to complain to
him. The burden of their woes was summed up by the
spokesman for a Northside precinct.
"Where the hell did you dig up this guy Add-lay?" he
inquired sadly. "Let alone not knowing him, the voters
can't even pronounce his name. He'll get his ears beat back/'
Balanced against Stevenson's liabilities were certain un-
deniable assets. Among these, the least impressive was his
record in Washington, Europe and the UN. Neither the
Navy nor the rights of minorities in Iran count for much
with the voters of Illinois. Somewhat more important was
his family background, which suggested that even if only
his relatives voted for him, he would pile up a fairly substan-
tial total. The most important argument of all, in persuading
the ward heelers to accept him, was that no one really
expected him to win.
In the winter of 1948, even Democrats thought it was sure
to be a Republican year. A Chicago Republican leader told
Dewey that Stevenson Lad no more chance of winning in
Illinois than he had of spitting up Niagara Falls. Dewey
later informed Stevenson that his sole satisfaction in the
1948 election was that it enabled him to ask his misguided
informant to perform this interesting experiment. Democrats
were only a little more optimistic. The idea was to run
someone who, even in losing, would confer respectability
upon the ticket.
In view of the probabilities in the election for one thing,
and of the difficulties in overcoming Stevenson's scruples
about running for governor for another, some points that
are usually inspected carefully beforehand had been wholely
overlooked. One of these came to light when Stevenson, Arvey
and their publicity campaign manager, Spike Hennessey, were
riding to Springfield to accept his nomination from the State
"By the way, Jack/* asked Stevenson. "Do you think I
ought to make a political speech to these fellows? You know,
IVe never really made one/'
It was explained to the candidate that, on the occasion of
accepting a gubernatorial nomination, a speech was usually
"Well, what do you think I ought to say to them?" in-
Arvey explained that, as the candidate, it was Stevenson's
privilege to say anything he wanted. "Maybe you should
think what you would do if you were governor and just
tell them that," he suggested.
"Well, I do have some ideas, of course." said Stevenson.
ADLAI E. STEVENSON
"I suppose I'll make a mess of it, as usual, but still, 111 go
back to the club-car and try to work out something/'
"He went back to the club-car for an hour/' says Arvey,
recalling the incident, "When he came back, he had a speech
that would take about eight minutes to deliver. Hennessey
and I read over it and then looked at each other.
" 'Don't ever let anyone change a word of it, or of any
speech you ever write/ was what I said to him/' says Arvey.
"You've got a new approach to politics entirely."
Stevenson's new approach a down-to-earth one in which
he said what he meant in as few words as possible, seasoned
with wit, common sense and conviction pleased voters as
much as it pleased Mr. Arvey. Nonetheless, as the campaign
progressed, even this approach seemed hardly an adequate
weapon with which to win the election and few others were
available. Many of Stevenson's friends, Republicans as well as
Democrats, had often urged him to enter politics and promised
to provide financial support if and when he did so. Approached
in the autumn of 1948, most of them seemed to feel that
the time was singularly inopportune. Stevenson's campaign
managers rarely had more than a few hundred dollars in
their treasury. Once, when they desperately needed $200
to pay for a radio program, Hermon Smith was on his way
to get credit or cancel it when he saw an old friend on the
corner and button-holed him for a loan. Finally, on top of
the money shortage, the candidate seemed somewhat slow
to catch on to standard political techniques.
In conducting a political campaign, the standard tech-
nique is for the candidate to promise as many potential
supporters as many things as possible, in the effort to secure
votes. This makes things difficult for him when he gets into
office but, since it is presumed to be impossible to get into
office otherwise, the method is almost universally practiced.
Stevenson chose a different one. He promised nobody
anything, including Colonel Arvey. On the contrary, before
consenting to run at all, he made Arvey promise him some-
Explaining that he thought himself better qualified for
the Senate than for the Executive Mansion, he said to
Arvey: "I'm not a politician. Til do a lot of things the organi-
zation wouldn't stand for. I won't make political appointments.
Til get you into a lot of trouble/'
Arvey felt constrained to assure Stevenson that he would
have a free hand with appointments and need only appoint
Democrats if he was sure they qualified.
Not long afterward, Arvey was with Stevenson when
two important labor leaders came to pay a call at his head-
"We are here to support you," said one of the leaders,
"but we don't want any misunderstandings. We want you
to appoint a member of our union as labor director. And we'd
like Jack, here, to be a witness, when you say you'll do it/'
"Stevenson," says Arvey, "looked that fellow in the eye
and said something that took courage. He said: 'I need you
men and I need your support. But I haven't made any
promises and I'm not making any. I may pick a man from
your union. Then again, I may not. Jack Arvey here, hasn't
asked me for any commitments. If he doesn't, why should
ADLAI E. STEVENSON
youX I knew right then that he was no striped-pants
Stevenson's campaign was hased on the issue of corruption,
as exemplified in the regime of the incumbent Dwight
Green, who opposed him. Corruption in Illinois state politics
is an old, old story. The estimable Henry Homer had
done a fine job in his first term but in the course of it,
marked coolness developed between him and the redoubtable
Edward Kelly of the famous Kelly-Nash duumvirate. In the
campaign of 1936, Kelly had set out to smash Horner. Hor-
ner only won by squeezing votes out of every state office
holder and making commitments to anyone who had votes
Partly because of such commitments, Homer's second
term, during which his health deteriorated rapidly, was less
successful than his first. No real scandal developed however,
until after his death, which took place three months before
the term expired. There then began the "hundred days" of
Illinois politics, somewhat less glorious ones than Napoleon's,
during which Horner's political heirs hastened to take advan-
tage of their unexpected opportunity. Working, as it were, on
golden time, the new regime scrawled such a sorry record
that not even the many thousands of gallons of white paint
bought from a paint contractor friend of the lieutenant gov-
ernor sufficed wholly to conceal it. It was in protest against
the graft of this regime that that of Green had been elected.
Green had been an assistant U. S. Attorney at the time of
Al Capone's conviction for tax evasion and was widely
credited for convicting him. No one doubted that there had
been some conniving during the Green regime but Green
Lewis Green Stevenson with daughter Elizabeth and son Adlai Ewing
in 1902 at Charlevoix, Michigan, where the family spent most summer
Home of Adlai E. Stevenson I in Bloomington, Illinois, had wide porch,
rose trellis and captain's walk.
Sailing was a favorite summer sport at Charlevoix, an old-fashioned,
informal resort on Lake Michigan.
Adlai E. Ste\ r enson, at three, poses at Charlevoix with his sister Elizabeth
C'Buffie"), who is now Mrs. Einest L. Ives.
Kite flying at age of four, Adlai Stevenson is encouraged by his sister,
standing at extreme right. Adlai's family nickname was "Laddie."
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First recorded literary composition of Governor was this letter to his
father written when he was seven. Animal seems to show Thurber
Tennis was Stevenson's best sport at Choate School, where he was too
light for football. Governor still plays fair game.
At Lausanne, Switzerland in 1912, Stevenson family went sightseeing
in old-fashioned Packard touring car.
At thirteen, Adlai Stevenson wore
At fifteen, he attended high school
at Normal, Illinois.
At twenty-six, Adlai passed bar
exams at Northwestern.
Growing bald in 1951, Governor
still looks youthful
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was well liked; and, after all, it was a Republican year.
Halfway through the Illinois campaign of 1948, a gambler
was murdered in Peoria. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, an
out-of-state paper with a big circulation in southern Illinois,
sent a reporter to dig into the causes. The reporter found
evidences of an alliance between gamblers and law enforce-
ment officers. The Green administration rashly tried to dis-
credit both the expose and the reporter. The Post-Dispatch,
joined by the Chicago Daily News, got down to business and
dug further. What they uncovered proved to be exceptional
even for Illinois.
It developed that numerous officials in the Green adminis-
tration had been steadily engaged in shaking down gamblers,
slot machine operators and punchboard distributors. Govern-
ment payrolls were loaded with useless and in some cases
non-existent employees. Property was bought at wildly in-
flated prices from friends of the administration. Cheating and
kicking back on state contracts was standard practice. Scores
of newspaper editors who might be deemed to know about
such matters, and potentially capable of writing about them,
were carried on the state payrolls for thousands of dollars a
month. Since this was just about the sort of thing that
Stevenson had been charging, its appearance in cold print
from an objective source provided his campaign with fresh
Green's campaign against Stevenson had been lethargic,
patterned on the national one, on whose success it was
expecting to carry the state. About the worst things that
Green had found to say about Stevenson was that he was a
"cookie-pusher" and a "striped-pants diplomat." When some
ADLAI E. STEVENSON
of Stevenson's old cronies on the Chicago News reported
that its files contained no pictures of Stevenson in striped
pants, and printed one of Green wearing not only striped
pants, Lut a top hat, cutaway and white waistcoat as well,
this aspersion lost its cogency.
Early in October a friend spied Stevenson on a streetcar,
going from his office to the station. Two months before, the
friend would have felt inclined to jump off the car again,
to avoid being touched for a campaign contribution. Changed
circumstances emboldened him to ask how the campaign was
'It's going too well/' said Stevenson. "I think I'm going
to get elected."
When Stevenson defeated Green by 572,000 votes, while
Truman was nosing out Dewey in Illinois by a mere 34,000,
or more than half a million less, it was one of the most
dramatic reversals of the they-laughed-when-I-sat-down-at-
the-piano variety ever recorded in the long history of U. S.
politics. However, the politicians seemed to feel that the
joke, somehow or other, was still on Stevenson. Immediately
after election, in thanking a large group of ward leaders for
their efforts during the campaign, the Governor-elect added
that his only regret was that he would have to leave so many
loyal friends behind when he moved to Springfield.
"Don't you worry, Adlai," shouted someone in the crowd,
"we will all be there/'
The ward leaders were there, to be sure, but it did them
very little good. The selection of Stevenson as a tyro candi-
date for provincial office long after the rest of the world knew
him as a master of diplomatic maneuvering was one of the
ironies of the 1948 campaign. The election to office of a
candidate deemed wholely unelectable as amazing as a
butchering of the executioner by the sacrificial lamb had
been another. The final irony, however, remained to be re-
In accepting Stevenson as a nominee for governor, Chi-
cago's seasoned professional politicians had been operating on
the entirely plausible theory that if, by any amazing chance,
he were to get elected, he could immediately be taught to
play ball and that, if he proved inept, he could be readily
dropped from the roster at the next election. The discoveries
first that Stevenson had no intention of playing ball and,
second, that far from being expendable he was the state's
greatest political asset in a century was only made by them
later on, and then with by no means unmixed delight.
.HE QUALITY of surprise engendered, among politicians
generally, and Illinois politicians in particular, by Stevenson's
performance as Governor of Illinois springs from a little
understood fact about the virtue of honesty. In the abstract,
honesty is the same everywhere. In practice, it differs quali-
tatively in different callings, owing to the influence in each
of its special esprit de corps. Thus, without being accused of
dishonesty, theatrical people proverbially give priority over
all else to creating an illusion, i.e., deceiving the public, in
what is recognized as a harmless manner. Lawyers may plead
innocence for guilty clients without betraying their profes-
sional code. Wicked brokers may bilk their customers but a
nod is good as gold on the stock exchange. Even honor
among thieves, as gangster murders to punish infringements
of it amply testify, is by no means an empty phrase. Politics,
too, has its special kind of honesty. In this kind of honesty,
loyalty to other politicians, repayment of political favors in
kind or cash and absolute fidelity to pledges often not only
unwritten but unspoken have priority over loyalty to the
It is not hard to see why this should be so. Politicians make
a living out of politics and sympathize with each other's
difficulties in doing so. However, while the special brands
of honesty exemplified in most other callings are not usually
a matter of wide general interest, and thus often pass without
disparaging comment, the special brand of honesty exempli-
fied in politics is, by definition, a matter of public concern;
and the public, moreover, naively expects politicians to give
priority to its interests rather than to each other's. This
results in frequent misunderstandings between the public
and its public servants. It creates what might be called the
public servant problem in which, when the public angrily
complains of being imposed upon, the public servants re-
spond with sincere feelings of injured innocence.
Never having been in politics before, Stevenson was
unencumbered by the political obligations normally in-
curred by any politician long before he reaches such
eminence as a governorship. In addition to this, and what
was even more important, he was hardly aware that such
obligations existed, let alone of the importance that attached
to them among his new associates. He brought to politics
only honesty of the lay variety, and acted as though that
were the only kind. Politicians were horrified not so much
by his reformer s zeal as by his failure to observe their code
which they put down to his perhaps pardonable ignorance.
A classic example of this apparent ignorance on Stevenson's
part cropped up immediately, in the form of his introduction
into the legislature of a bill to reform the state police force.
The Illinois state police force consists of five hundred
uniformed constables whose salaries are around $400 each
per month. Their far from onerous duties traditionally con-
sisted of acting as chauffeurs and performing political chores
for state officials. The qualifications for this type of public
ADLAI E. STEVENSON
service were not elevated ones. Prior to Stevenson's in-
cumbency, the convention had been for each new adminis-
tration to dismiss all the state policemen appointed by the
opposition party and install new ones of its own. By the time
Stevenson had been sworn in, his dutiful party leaders,
mindful of the precepts of political honesty, had lists of party
workers, and party workers' friends and relatives, who seemed
eligible as replacements for the Republican police force.
For Stevenson to have preserved the system of appointing
state policemen on a patronage basis would have been quite
in line not only with state tradition but also with family
tradition as founded by the Headsman. Instead, his grandson
calmly announced that he planned to put the state police
department to work, in a law enforcement capacity. Further,
he announced that its personnel would be chosen on the
merit system, i.e., after examination of applicants as to their
qualifications for their new and unaccustomed duties. Finally,
he had a bill introduced into the legislature, to enact this
plan into law.
The howl that went up from Democratic politicians at
this was similar in tone to that of a small child punished
when it is not aware of being naughty. "He's ruining the
Democratic party/' screamed one ward leader to Colonel
Arvey. "A sneaky trick," protested another one. Even Arvey,
who had been aware of the Governor's intention, was awed
by his method of effecting it. "I thought he would offer them
something in return," says Arvey, " some sort of compromise
or other. But the Governor offered nothing. Of course, in
the long run, he was right. Good government gets more votes
than handing out jobs, but it is hard to make a precinct
captain see it that way/'
In fact, since the police merit system bill was so amended
in the legislature as to guarantee political equality on the
force, it worked no long-term injury on Stevenson's own
party. The force was almost exclusively composed of Republi-
can appointees, at the time of his election. The bill, as passed,
called for the division of the 500-man force equally between
Democrats and Republicans. Thereafter, replacements would
be made on the merit plan. With generous Republican back-
ing as well as the support of reluctantly obedient Democrats,
the bill swept through both houses and set the tone for the
rest of Stevenson's first administration.
When Stevenson took office in 1948, he inherited a state
in which: Three thousand miles of highway were in urgent
need of immediate repair or reconstruction; mental hospitals
were overcrowded, obsolete and understaffed; aid to public
schools were less per capita than in any other state in the
union; illicit gambling operated with the professional endorse-
ment of local police; payrolls were padded but legitimate state
salaries had not been raised to meet the cost of living; charges
of every sort of corruption, often well-founded, had under-
mined confidence in the government generally; and an
eighty-year-old state constitution so framed as to be practically
amendment-or revision-proof, made it difficult if not impos-
sible to get at the source of many of these and other deficien-
ADLAI E. STEVENSON
In three and a half years in office, Stevenson effected
some noteworthy changes.
Roads. During the early nineteen twenties the somewhat
Roman proclivities of the late Governor Len Small included
road-building which, as the biggest single item in state
expenditures legitimate and otherwise, are the biggest and
most obvious item on any list of gubernatorial responsibilities.
Whether or not the Small regime profited unduly by doing
so, it at least provided Illinois with one of the first and best
state highway systems. The Small road system, however, had
not been designed to withstand the ravages of heavy-duty
trucking. This, the shortage of maintenance crews during the
war and mere old age had caused the entire Illinois road
system to start crumbling more or less simultaneously in
1948. Stevenson set his newly reformed state police force to
policing overweight trucks, instead of cheerfully waving them
on their way. He raised truck registration fees and gas taxes
to provide new revenue. Lastly, he reorganized the highway
division, to eliminate graft in handling contracts and get set
for a major building program. The program, a ten-year one,
calling for the eventual expenditure of some $100,000,000,
is now under way, and will result in a complete renovation
and modernization of the entire 12,000-mile highway system.
Schools. In 1948, Illinois' per capita rate of state aid to
local schools was among the lowest in the U. S. Stevenson
immediately advocated spending an additional $112,000,000
and proposed broadening the base of the state sales tax to
provide the funds for this and some other similar forms of
local aid. When the sales tax bill was defeated, aid to the
schools had to be cut back 10 percent but nonetheless during
[ 100 ]
his term the state's contribution to schools rose by $139,000,
000. Illinois' educational program is now generally regarded
as one of the nation's best.
Mental Hospitals, like roads, are purely a state responsi-
bility. Illinois' twenty eight hospitals, housing 47,000 patients,
in 1948 closely resembled enlarged Bedlams, partly because
their 3,500 attendants were all political appointees. Stevenson
called the heads of the hospitals into conference to find out
what they really needed. He appointed Fred Hoehler, an
internationally known expert in rehabilitation, to head the
Welfare Department. Under Hoehler, 85 percent of the
attendants were put under civil service. Thousands of patients
capable of being cared for at home were dislodged from the
overcrowded hospitals. Thousands of others capable of paying
their own way in whole or in part were required to do so.
By 1950, Dr. Karl Menninger of the famous Kansas Clinic,
was invited to inspect the hospitals to see what improvements
had been made and what further ones were needed. Men-
ninger pronounced the Illinois Mental Hospitals among the
best in the country.
Personnel. Illinois has had civil service provisions covering
most state jobs since 1905. However, the civil service law
specifies that, when a certified appointee is not available,
a non-certified one may be temporarily appointed instead.
Politicians dislike certified employees because, being almost
immune to firing, they make less enthusiastic party workers
than employees who have the sword of dismissal over their
heads. Furthermore, this preference can be plausibly ration-
alized on the ground that the lack of incentive makes civil
service workers indolent in their real jobs. While not alto-
ADLAI E. STEVENSON
gather sold on civil service, Stevenson considers it superior
to patronage. He encouraged civil service inspectors boards
to examine appointees in as many branches of the state
employment as possible. This was an arduous and unspec-
tacular process but the results have been notable. Thousands
of jobs which were previously filled by "temporary," i.e.,
political, appointees are now filled by certified civil service
employees. Especially important is the increased ratio of civil
service employees in the state's corps of field investigators,
who previously had been especially in demand as political
Economy. In the course of bringing the state budget into
balance, Stevenson contrived not only to increase expendi-
tures on roads and schools but also to raise legitimate state
salaries 10 percent, most of the difference being squeezed out
of existing revenues by firing 1,300 superfluous employees,
holding new construction to a minimum and paring down
politically advantageous contributions from state funds to
local pressure groups. Illinois currently ranks lower in per
capita tax collection in relation to per capita income than
any other states except Nebraska and New Jersey. Unlike
almost every other state, it has not raised general revenue
taxes since 1948. While the average of other states total ap-
propriations were rising 22 percent, Illinois appropriations
rose only 12 percent. The consensus of opinion appears to be
that Stevenson's economies have been effected not at the
expense of needed services but by means of more efficient
administration and more careful expenditure.
Administrative Methods. Stevenson put through seventy-
eight bills aimed at technical improvements on the efficiency
[ 102 1
of governmental machinery. He reorganized die State Com-
merce Commission, which sets utility rates, on a bipartisan
basis. He tried to get a fair employment practice bill and
failed by only one vote. And he survived two potentially
One of the scandals was the discovery that state meat in-
spectors were being bribed to pass horse meat for beef for use
in hamburgers. The other was the discovery of the practice of
counterfeiting cigarette stamps. The usual procedure in such
cases is to get the attorney general to investigate and pin the
blame on someone outside the regime. Stevenson lead both
exposes himself and employed lie-detector tests on his own
To professional politicians, not the least astonishing feature
of the Stevenson regime has been the Governor's success in
enlisting the cooperation of his own party's disconcerted
bosses and especially that of the senate's Democratic minority
leader, a battle-scarred veteran of the Chicago precinct wars
named Bill Connors. Instead of becoming impatient with
Stevenson's innovations. Connors developed a protective feel-
ing for him. Connors calls Stevenson "the little fellow in the
mansion," and nurses his pet projects through the mills of
legislation like a Damon Runyon gambler caring for a
Underlying many of the other ills of Illinois state govern-
ment when Stevenson toot office was the constitution itself.
This eighty-year-old instrument had become sadly outdated
in many respects but in three in particular. One was the tax
ADLAI E. STEVENSON
provision whereby, since no distinction was made between
real estate and other personal property, taxes fell chiefly on
land, thus preventing effective revision of the state's whole
revenue structure. Second was the judiciary provision where-
by the geographic distribution, the method of selection and
the definition of duties of judges were woefully behind the
times. Third was the provision whereby the legislature met
only every other year. A biennial assembly was workable
when Illinois was an underpopulated wilderness without a
transportation system but scarcely adequate for the nation's
fourth biggest state under conditions when inflation made
two-year budgetting impractical.
All this would have been enough reason for revising the
constitution but there was also another one which made
revision at once more necessary and more difficult. This was
the very procedure provided for revision or amendment. An
amendment to the Illinois constitution required first a two-
thirds majority in both houses before it could even be sub-
mitted to the voters. To become law, it then required a
majority of all votes cast in the general election at which
the item was submitted. Since an amendment was rarely
brought forcibly to the voters' attention beforehand, it was
usually ignored on the ballots, and hence doomed to certain
defeat. In order to revise the constitution itself, an even
more cumbersome procedure was required. First a two-thirds
majority in both houses had to favor a referendum on the
subject of holding a constitutional convention. Then voters
in the statewide referendum had to vote to hold it.
Stevenson started off by trying to push through a bill
calling for a constitutional convention. This promptly en-
countered substantial opposition. Part of it came from those
who feared that die revised constitution might although
the Governor offered assurances to the contrary result in
a state income tax. Part of it was apparently mere political
contrariness, since several Republicans who had voted for
the constitutional convention referendum during the Green
regime, voted against it during Stevenson's, The bill passed
the House but appeared likely to fail by a few votes in the
Senate. There now arose a political dilemma.
One of the more colorful minor subdivisions in the Illinois
State Legislature is a group of five legislators from Chicago's
river wards, known collectively as "the West Side Bloc."
The Pericles of the West Side Bloc is James J. Adduci
whose qualifications for law-making include having been
arrested eighteen times between 1920 and 1933 without ever
having been convicted of anything.
For perhaps understandable reasons, the members of this
colorful group, who emphasized their unanimity of purpose
by attending sessions of the legislature in similar brightly
patterned Hawaiian sports shirts, were adversely disposed
toward a bill then pending, of which the purpose was to
strengthen Chicago's Grand Jury procedure. Grapevine in-
formation revealed to Stevenson that, by promising to veto
the crime commission bill, he could secure the West Side
Bloc's support for the constitutional convention referendum.
Later on, another even easier way to pass the constitutional
conventional resolution was suggested to him. This was
merely to agree not to veto a bill to permit dog racing in
Illinois, in case the bill passed both houses, which was by
no means likely. Stevenson rejected both propositions and
ADLAI E. STEVENSON
the constitutional convention, with the West Side Bloc
solidly against it, lost by five votes in the House.
With the constitutional convention defeated, Stevenson
next announced his support of an amendment which might, to
some degree, serve the same purpose. This was the "Gateway
Amendment/' so called because it provided a gateway to con-
stitutional changes by permitting three amendments to be
presented to the voters at once, instead of only one every two
years, and by requiring a two-thirds majority of all those
voting on each amendment instead of a majority of all votes
cast. By calling a meeting of top leaders of both houses, the
Governor got a bipartisan committee to back the gateway bill
and eventually pushed it through both houses with Republican
help. The gateway amendment, which provides the basis for
further constitutional revisions, was itself the first amendment
to the constitution passed in Illinois since 1908.
In attempting to withdraw from the presidential race last
spring, Stevenson spoke of "my desire and the desire of
many who have given me their help and confidence in our
unfinished work in Illinois/' A good many politicians on the
national scene are just as puzzled by such utterances as the
state politicians were by Stevenson when he took office in
1948. Stevenson, however, regards the gateway amendment
as well as some of his other reforms, as chiefly significant in
providing a chance to effect much bigger improvements in
state government during the next four years. He is aware
that a hurriedly picked successor, to get elected at all, might
have to make commitments that he himself can presumably
get elected without making. Conversely, he fears that with-
out his presence in Springfield, even such a rudimentary
reform as the merit system for the state police might easily
be subject to immediate repeal and the rest of his hard-won
program speedily ruined.
Another four-year term at the Executive Mansion seems to
Stevenson not merely insurance against ruin of the work
already accomplished. It also offers a chance to make the
Illinois government into an approximation of what he thinks
state government ought to be. As a devotee of decentraliza-
tion of authority. Stevenson sees a deep national significance
in such an achievement. If he could make it, his conscience
might well permit him to consider his present job finished,
and to start in on a bigger one, if the occasion arose.
URING the period of the Stevenson presidential boom,
one o the out-of-town political observers who dropped in to
survey the Springfield scene was a pundit from Montana.
After a week of talking to Stevenson and his administrative
assistants, the visitor sought out one of the Chicago reporters
assigned to the capital.
"This Stevenson," said the visitor, "he seems to be sur-
rounded by a lot of well-scrubbed college boys and I've seen
all of them. Now, who the hell do you go to around here
when you want to talk politics?"
The effect made by Stevenson's entourage upon a pundit
judging it by Helena standards was perhaps understand-
able. Notably absent from the Governor's staff is anything
remotely like a Jim Farley, a Louis Howe or even a Harry
Hopkins. Outside of Colonel Arvey, who, when not in
Chicago, now spends most of his time in Florida, the only
member of the Governor's staff with extra-parochial political
connections is a young man named Richard Nelson, whose
gray hair belies both his age, which is thirty five, and his
role on the national scene, which is that of President of the
Young Democrats of America. Partly in an effort to keep
up his out-of-state contacts, Nelson quite often accompanies
the Governor to his more distant speaking engagements. "The
truth is," says Nelson, wlio nurses no Illusions about his
role on such excursions, "that I have probably sat at the
extreme left-end of more daises than anyone else of my age
in America. I always expect to get pushed off at any moment,
and I wouldn't be surprised to find that one of my legs had
grown longer than the other/'
Along with McGowan, Blair and Nelson, the Governor's
circle of administrative aides, includes Don Hyndman, a
forty-two-year old alumnus of the Associated Press, who
handles much of the Governor's official correspondence and
does most of the research for his speeches; William Flanagan,
another ex-newspaperman and public relations expert, who
acts as press-secretary; Lawrence E. Irvin, a native of Bloom-
ington and an ex-Red Cross Field director who handles person-
nel and runs the administrative offices; and Ross Randolph,
the latest recruit to the staff, an ex-FBI man who specializes in
investigating the investigating staffs whose lapses, in the
matter of cigarette taxes and horse-meat hamburgers, have
been the administration's most serious failures to date.
This staff, which meets with the Governor for a three-hour
conference every Thursday morning, has a by no means
accidental resemblance to the group of political disciples
which has surrounded Tom Dewey, as district attorney and
later as governor of New York. Stevenson is an ad-
mirer of Dewey methods in state government and has
carefully studied his handling of state hospitals, prisons,
roads and insurance supervision. Early last winter Robert E.
Dineen, Dewey's former insurance superintendent, who re-
signed to become vice-president of Northwestern Mutual Life,
paid a visit to Springfield where he and Edward Day, who
[ 109 ]
ADLAI E. STEVENSON
heads the Illinois Department of Insurance, addressed a
convention of insurance agents. Before the meeting, Day
took Dineen to the Governor's office where the Governor
quizzed him for an hour asking him how Dewey's personal
staff was organized, how many aides there were, how their
work was divided, what salaries they got and how many
secretaries were assigned to each.
Day himself is an alumnus of Stevenson's corps of admin-
istrative assistants, as is Judge Walter Schaefer, a one-time
Northwestern University law professor who was subsequently
elevated to justice of the state supreme court and has been
widely mentioned as a possible successor to Stevenson in the
event of his own graduation to larger endeavors. Other star
members on the roster of department heads are Joseph Pois
of Finance, a Chicago Ph.D. who had held wide and highly
remunerative posts in private industry before coming to
Springfield; and Fred K. Hoehler of Public Welfare, who
headed UNRA's displaced persons division in Europe and
renewed a previous acquaintance with Stevenson in London.
One of the well-known difficulties of national, let alone
state, administration, is getting top-notch people for jobs
which offer little financial incentive and at best a brief
premium in prestige. In bringing to Springfield executives
of a standard well above that of the Washington average,
Stevenson's own wide acquaintance in high level business
and bureaucratic circles has been advantageous, as has been
the consequent, reciprocal confidence of appointees in his
administration. Hoehler, for example, agreed to join the
welfare department on a three-month basis, to devise an
over-all plan for cleaning up the mental hospitals. Once
started, lie stayed on because lie found the job was free from
the pressures of politics and patronage. "IVe been in this
sort of thing all my life/* Hoehler said recently, "but I could
see that this set-up was something entirely new. It's hard to
explain to an outsider who doesn't know state politics. I do
know them and I had never seen anything at all like this
before. There was a job that could really be done here; that
interested me, so I never got around to leaving/'
So far as Stevenson's availability for the presidency is
concerned, the availability to him as governor of such execu-
tives as Hoehler has, ironically, become a handicap. The
Governor is well aware that, under the circumstances, politi-
cal pressures to which he is immune would be applied to any
one who succeeded him. His loyalty to the people for whose
careers he feels responsible, as well as to his legislative pro-
gram, have thus been among his major explicit motives for pre-
ferring Springfield to the White House. By the same token,
of course, if Stevenson had gone to the Senate instead of
the state capital in 1948, he would never have had the
administrative experience that is now one of his chief quali-
fications for an even bigger executive job.
Among the many other reasons advanced by outsiders to
explain the Governor s reluctance to leave Springfield, pos-
sibly the least convincing is the notion that, while the
presidency is a stupendous job for anyone, it might be beyond
the powers of a chief executive not equipped with a wife to
relieve him of the social side of the burden. As a lifelong
trouble-shooter by temperament as well as talent, and one
ADLAI E. STEVENSON
whose skill in this specialty has now reached Herculean
heights, the Governor tends to be delighted rather than
dismayed by occupational difficulties. One of the things that
enables him to enjoy his stem curriculum in the Springfield
Executive Mansion is that it too offers just such a double
burden, which he has learned not only to carry but to juggle.
Like most politicians, the Governor is intensely gregarious.
The lively correspondence which he keeps up with his
friends is full of threats to have this or that one of them
pulled into the Mansion by the state police unless they offer
to come of their own accord. Partly on this account, and
partly because of the traditional exigencies of political enter-
taining, the Mansion is ran less like an ordinary private
house than a sort of cross between a convention hotel and a
tourist museum. During the regime of Henry Homer, also
a bachelor, a tradition grew up whereby various ladies' organ-
izations in and around Springfield were encouraged to use
the first-floor rooms of the Mansion for teas, musicales and
occasional soirees. This practice continued under Governor
and Mrs. Green with the result that it is now a rare week
when one or more such group fails to swarm up the drive
and into the Mansion's receiving rooms. As a rule, the
Governor drops in on these gatherings for a few minutes
but if he wants to reach the third flood without getting
involved, he can do so surreptitiously by means of an elevator
that runs direct from the office to his bedroom* Like the
parties it enables him to duck, the elevator is a bequest from
Homer, who had it installed during his long illness.
While usually a convenience, the elevator has sometimes
proved to be the opposite as on one occasion during Steven-
son's first year in office when Ills guest of honor at the
Mansion was Carl Sandburg. Aware that Sandburg wanted
to sleep late, the Governor moved out of his own room so
that the great poet could have the most comfortable quarters
in the house in which to do so. Also present at the time were
Stevenson's youngest son, John Fell, then eleven, and a small
contemporary, who decided it would be fun to inspect the
celebrity in his slumbers and figured that they could easily
manage it by riding up in the elevator and peaking through
the window. Unfortunately, the window was higher than
they were, which led to some scrambling around in the car
and a breakdown of its mechanism. Sandburg was awakened
betimes by repairmen who were obliged to traverse his room
in order to extract the occupants.
When Stevenson was working on Navy labor relations
during the war, one of his associates was the Chicago Daily
New's top labor reporter, Edwin Lahey. Lahey, who re-
joined the News after the war, last spring wrote a biograph-
ical series about the Governor in which he said: "He knows
his sprawling two-billion-dollar organization the way a
country storekeeper knows where the last stray card of safety-
pins is stored/' This may be something of an overstatement
but Stevenson does show a kind of affectionate zeal toward
the minutiae of his job that sometimes bewilders visitors who,
after they have been inveigled into paying a visit at the
Mansion, find themselves left to their own devices while the
Governor toils away in his cellar.
Some months ago, an old friend of Stevenson's, visiting
him for a few days, became seriously concerned over the
Governor's habit of returning to work after dinner, and inter-
ADLAI E. STEVENSON
rupted him at about eleven o'clock, to tell him so.
"Now just an example/' said the friend, "what is that
paper you have in your hand right now? I'll bet even money
it's something someone else could just as well be doing for
"Well, to tell you the truth," said Stevenson, "it's about
the contract specifications for some insulation to go around
pipes in the basement of one of the buildings at the Manteno
"Exactly," said the friend, "that's what I mean. You ought
to delegate a job like that. You're no expert on pipe insu-
"Of course not," said Stevenson, "but that's just why Fm
looking this thing over. I wanted to find out about it."
During the height of the excitement last April, when
Stevenson had been answering two or three calls a minute on
the subject of his presidential plans, he received one from
Joseph Gill, who replaced Colonel Arvey as Chairman of the
Cook County Democratic Committee when the latter became
a national committeeman. Stevenson and Gill conversed for
upward of half an hour. The principal subject of their talk
was a $6,500 a year employee in a state bureau who, the
Governor thought, might be more advantageously situated
elsewhere in a different post, at that time occupied by a man
who was having a fight with his superior. The new job was
in many ways better than the old one, but it only paid $6,000
a year. What did Gill think about this? Would the pay cut
create a hardship? Did he agree with the Governor's con-
clusions about the proficiencies of the two men involved?
Gill proposed a new solution, involving a third state em-
ployee. The Governor knew all about him also and countered
with some reservations. The talk went on for half an hour
on this, and related topics. When it ended, in a mutually
acceptable decision, Stevenson hung up the receiver re-
"Well thank you for calling, Joe/' he said. "1 certainly
enjoy talking to you. I'd rather talk to you than almost any-
one. You don't know how much good it does me/'
Only more astonishing than the rapidity with which the
Stevenson-for-President boom had burgeoned in January was
the rapidity with which it withered in April, after Steven-
son's statement of the reasons why he "could not accept a
nomination." What made the latter phenomenon so surpris-
ing was that, granting that there was at least some reason
for the boom, there seemed to be very little for its termina-
tion save the customary reluctance of professional poli-
ticians to acquaint themselves with the real facts of the
The facts were simple enough.
If Stevenson had announced, shortly after the famous
Blair House meeting with Truman, that he wanted a presi-
dential nomination, it would have contradicted his previous
announcement that he was seeking a second term as governor.
In addition to being out of character, such a contradiction
would have been so frivolous as, incidentally, to have en-
dangered Stevenson's chances of getting a nomination
since there were no concrete developments to which he could
have attributed his sudden change of mind.
ADLAI E. STEVENSON
The passage of time not only failed to provide any such
developments but also in itself strengthened rather than
weakened Stevenson's prior commitments to the state of
Illinois. For him to have repudiated these commitments
in response to a mere hue and cry about the possibility of a
presidential nomination would have been frivolous at the
outset. It would have been unpardonable after the commit-
ments had acquired added force from usage.
If it became increasingly hard for Stevenson to release
himself from his commitments completely at any given point
in time, it was always wholely impossible for him to release
himself from them to a limited degree.
As he himself has pointed out, a statement to the effect
that he would accept a nomination but not campaign for
it would have been tantamount to starting a campaign.
Likewise, any indication, however indirect, that he could
"accept a draft/' would under the circumstances have meant
that the draft was actually nothing of the sort.
In addition to belying his commitments fully as much as
an openly avowed candidacy, either of these two methods
would have been additionally distasteful to Stevenson and
disadvantageous to his candidacy, in being markedly devious.
There was in fact only one time when Stevenson could,
with any propriety whatever, have declared himself for the
presidency. That was before he had declared himself for
governor. Even then the propriety would have been question-
able on other grounds, since no one had suggested that he do
such a thing.
Stevenson's April 16th statement, in short, was dictated
by circumstances. But even assuming that he not only had to
make It but that he also wanted to make It, the statement,
in the nature of things, was not binding upon anyone.
In saying that he "could not" accept a presidential nomina-
tion, Stevenson was merely acknowledging an obligation
from which he was powerless to release himself. He could
however be released from the obligation by others than him-
selfspecifically by the members of the Democratic National
When an officer is promoted, his new responsibilities
preclude his former ones. Likewise, a politician's loyalty to
the whole country must exceed his duty to any part of it.
To be sure, there was only one way to find out whether
Stevenson would accept a draft. That was to draft him. But
the real uncertainty was less whether It was his duty to
accept a draft than whether it was the convention's duty
to find out.
As to this, opinions naturally varied, but certain facts at
least were plain. The American two-party system operates
on a simple principle. Each party puts up its best candidate
and the country chooses between them.
There seemed little question that Stevenson judged by
any criterion applicable to presidential possibilities was
the best candidate available in the Democratic Party.
The questions that confronted the Democratic National
Convention were, therefore, only two. One was whether it
really wanted the best; and the other was whether, if it did
want the best, it had the courage and the common sense to
THE FOREGOING chapters, an effort lias keen made to tell
something of Adlai Ewing Stevenson s origins, environment
and experience. No effort has keen made to express, interpret or
appraise his opinions upon controversial issues. Such expres-
sion would havl seemed gratuitous because the Governor has
already spoken for himself. Interpretation seemed unneces-
sary hecause Stevenson speaks explicitly. As for appraisal,
that may more justly he left to the reader.
Many of Stevenson s opinions were expressed before they
became a matter of national concern. Many of them by
corollary were made to relatively small gatherings and re-
ceived relatively scant attention. What follows, therefore, is
a collection of Stevenson s utterances speeches, excerpts
from speeches, writings and informal conversations intended
to provide a cross section of his thinking. The first item is a
speech delivered by the Governor at Northwestern Univer-
sity's Founders Day January 21st, 1951.
In reading a speech, or for that matter anything else, the
occasion of its composition must be taken into account; not to
do this is at best to miss its full value and at worst to mis-
understand it entirely. Everyone understands the danger of
quoting bits of an argument out of context; but to consider
a speech in full without considering the circumstances that
prompted it is to take the whole speech, as it were, out of
Northwestern is one of eight institutions (the others are
Illinois Wesleyan, Illinois College, Bradley University,
Centre College, Lake Forest College, Ham^ den-Sidney Col-
lege and McKendree College) from which Stevenson holds
honorary degrees. To mark the occasion of Founders Day,
the university had invited George F. Kennan and Reinhold
Niebuhr to speak on specific subjects relating to the state of
the world at that point in its history. Stevenson had heen
asked to deal with world affairs in a general way, so as to set
the tone and establish a framework for the remarks of Kennan
January 21st, 1951, was not only the 100th anniversary of
Northwestern; it was also a year to the day before Stevenson's
somewhat more topical address to the Urban League, which,
indirectly, made him a national figure. In 1951, Stevenson
was still just a state governor and only beginning to he
marked as an exceptionally effective one. Disturbing events
were at the foreground of national attention. The Chinese
had launched their attack across the Yalu River a jew weeks
before; MacArthur was being criticized for failing to stop
them. On the home front, the Kefauver investigation had
started to -make headlines; juke hoxes were playing the Ten-
ADLAI E. STEVENSON
nesses Waltz. The nation was in the midst of the so-called
Great Debate on foreign policy, to which the Governors
speech was in the context of the immediate news a rather
minor footnote. Stevenson said:
Some five years ago this university, for reasons best known
to its trustees, conferred an honorary degree on me. Having
thus honored me I suppose the least the Governor of Illinois
could do in appreciation was to decline President Miller s and
Mr* Burgess' invitation to speak at this 100th anniversary
convocation. Instead I accepted, after the manner of insensi-
tive and egotistical politicians. I apologize.
Because there are others who can speak with authority
about the founding of Northwestern University, I am, with,
I am sure, your enthusiastic approval, going to resist the
temptation to tell you of the faith and convictions of the
founders who stood here 100 years ago and dreamed of "a
university of the highest order of excellence/' All that we
see about us testifies that they founded well and that their
successors have wrought well upon those foundations. In the
100 years the dream by the lake here in Dr. Evans' town
has become one of the world's large and honored communi-
ties of scholars.
Early Illinois was notoriously inhospitable to higher educa-
tion and I recall the remark of a lusty legislator who said in
opposition to a bill to charter the first three Illinois schools
that he was "born in a briar thicket, rocked in a hog trough
and never had his genius cramped by the pestilential air of
Northwestern, too, was born upon a scene on which the
[ 120 ]
light of higher education shone but fitfully. But in our time
one never sees a considered catalogue of the assets of Illinois
that does not always proudly list its universities at the top,
I once heard it said that Massachusetts Institute of Tech-
nology "humanized the scientist" while Harvard "simonized
the humanist/' Just what Northwestern does I don't know;
perhaps both. But at all events its contributions to the sciences
and the humanities and also to the wholesome goodness and
gaiety we associate with American student life have brought
to this campus imperishable distinction and affection.
Thanks to Northwestern, its neighbor, the University of
Chicago, the great State University, and many distinguished
lesser institutions, Illinois, and particularly this section of
the state, is now one of the treasure houses, one of the major
repositories, of the Western world's culture.
It is proper, therefore, that we pause to note the 100th
birthday of this proud university; that we pause a moment
in our feverish defense preparations to recall what we are
defending. Certainly one of the things we are defending is
the future security and health of privately supported uni-
versities such as Northwestern. In turn we confidently expect
them to defend for generations to come the spirit of free
inquiry and fearless scholarship which is a basic condition of
free men. For that protection and for the contribution of the
universities to "a large resolute breed of men" which Walt
Whitman called the only bar against tyranny, we will have
to trust to the future; we will have to trust that the guardians
here and elsewhere of the riches of our learning will never
forget what the treasure they guard is, what it is composed
of. We will have to trust that the guardians of Western
ADLAI E. STEVENSON
thought will never permit its vitality and beauty to be
smothered by strong, arrogant men who burn books and
bend thought to their liking, nor obscured by timid men
trembling in the darkness of anxiety.
The continuity of our heritage of scholarship, both bold
and free, which is the peculiar and priceless possession of
the university, must, then, be entrusted to the future. But
what of the present which has such a bearing on the health
and strength and continuity of the custodians of our culture?
Are the universities to be stripped of students in order
to defend our cultural heritage? The young of college age are
the seed corn of a society and a nation. To survive must we
eat our seed corn? And if we do, can we survive? We must
and we will, I think, find at least a partial answer to that
disturbing question. And we will find it in calm deliberation,
not in frantic fright.
Then, like you, after some experience, I have made the
disturbing observation that absence of thought in war seems
to be mandatory. And, of course, total abstinence from
thought is very agreeable for most of us, and a uniformly
popular condition among adolescents. But is it necessary
in mobilization, in half war, if you please? Perhaps we have
something to think about here as we enter the new and
unexplored era of the garrison state.
Again, I must ask with a shudder if it will be largely
women who enjoy the benefits of more advanced education
in the new era? Is the ancient tradition of masculine primacy
in jeopardy? Heaven forbid! And I should think a little
reflection on this appalling possibility by the male leaders in
all countries could do more to insure peace than a balance
of power in the world. It Is high time, it seems to me, that we
males begin to think of survival in terms of gender as well
as nationality and ideology.
Northwestern was born here in a quiet village on Lake
Michigan by a burgeoning city a hundred years ago. In 1851
Illinois was filling up with immigrants from the south and
east. A steel plow to cut the tough prairie sod had been
invented. The reaper had come to our prairies. On plank
roads Illinois was rising out of the mud. A railroad was push-
ing westward. Europe was in political and economic ferment.
The Irish and the Germans were coming in search of some-
thing better and more hopeful for the average man. With not
30,000 souls Chicago was struggling out of the swamps.
Illinois was passing from the log cabin frontier era and
shouldering its way into the new industrial day that was
breaking upon the Union.
A hundred years have passed; a hundred years which
have seen the culmination of a great historic expansive
movement of peoples from Europe to the West, and the
conquest, development and integration into the world com-
munity of the two great American continents, severed by
revolutions but tied by cultural inheritance to their western
At the same time there came another great expansion
from West to East. The Slavic peoples and culture pushed
through the Ural Mountains, across the vastness of Siberia
to the Pacific and on across the Bering Sea to Alaska and our
own West coast. The Russian tide collided with the Japanese,
just emerging from the hermit's hut with vaulting ambitions
too. There it stopped for a time but the land mass over
ADLAI E. STEVENSON
which the Russian expansion surged has for the most part
remained firmly in Russian hands, while the European over-
seas expansion created a new and independent center of
power here on our continent.
Twice in 25 years our new center of power, stretching
from the tropics to the Arctic and facing both the Pacific
and the Atlantic, has been compelled to intervene to redress
the balance of power in the world. And now with Britain
and France enfeebled by these wars, with the German and
Japanese power crushed, the United States and Russia,
which have risen from the mists of these short hundred years,
even as this university, stand face to face, with the other
nations polarized around them, drawn by the gravitational
pulls of proximity, coercion, self-interest and kinship.
Believing as we do in a community of free nations and
free peoples acting peacefully and responsibly through gov-
ernments freely chosen, we conclude at last that we cannot
live in comfortable security with a great imperial power
which has seen the barriers to its expansion collapse and is
on the move again, taking here, probing there, and pressing
relentlessly against the uncommitted, discontented millions.
Capitalizing the ancient racial zenophobia and the messianic
zeal to missionize the world of the Russian people, the
leaders of the new Russia, armed with force and the old
weapon of fomented revolution, use the seductive new weap-
on of communism to soften their victims. But whatever the
trappings, the methods, the weapons, the objective is domi-
nation imperialism. I often think it would be both more
accurate and more effective if we talked less of communism
with all its appeal for ignorant, miserable peoples and more
of imperialism which threatens the freedom and indepen-
dence of everyone and has no appeal Communism can be a
fighting faith, but imperialism is subtle slavery.
So, as Northwestern University enters its second century,
America, rich, peaceful and undisciplined, finds itself face
to face across both the seas with an inscrutable, ruthless
conqueror, strong, cunning and armed with an egalitarian
idea that has great appeal for the miserable masses of
humanity. No longer is there anyone to protect us. No longer
can we sow when and where we are certain to reap. There
is no safe investment, no certain harvest any longer. We
cannot even measure the price of saving ourselves. Indeed,
we seem to be in some doubt as to whether we should save
ourselves at all; whether we are worth the cost!
The quiet past in which this great university grew to
manhood is no more. Our bright land is troubled and sorely
tried. Things are badly out of balance when we spend $230
million for one aircraft carrier, four times the endowment of
this university. Its future is in doubt Our future is in doubt.
Some say fight now. Some say despotism is the wave of the
future. Some say abandon Asia. Some say abandon Europe.
And worst of all, everybody says something including me!
In our time peace has become as abnormal as war used
to be because this is the revolution. And revolution is ex-
tremely irritating, vexatious and bewildering to a prosperous,
peaceful, contented people that want nothing except to be
How have we reacted to this condition of perpetual danger?
It seems to me that for five years we have suffered from
the confusion and distraction of alternate moments of illusion
ADLAI E. STEVENSON
and despair. Hoping always for a cheap and painless escape
from the realities of a distasteful destiny, aided and abetted
by politicians who will say anything to be popular and by
editors either myopic or worse, public opinion has moved
in violent pendular swings between optimism and pessimism,
between the mountains of complacency and the marshes of
In fatuous haste to be shut of war, worry and expense, we
obliterate our power and leave it to the United Nations to
keep a peace that never existed. When things go right we
we gush paeans of praise for the United Nations; when they
go wrong we damn it and even propose to forsake the good
because it is not the perfect. In fear we overestimate the
danger; imperil our liberties, exaggerate the foe's cunning
and strength; even demand a showdown as though the
certainty of doom were preferable to the uncertainty. Again,
perpetual danger invites the complacency of status and we
underestimate the peril by overconfidence in our virtue and
power, as though that were enough in a moral contest. But
the self hypnosis of loud and repeated talk about our right-
eousness and freedom will rally no allies nor blow the
Kremlin walls down.
And now as things get tough and we find we can't buy,
threaten or preach our way to peace, we are menaced by
amateur strategists. Even the isolationists have reappeared,
flexing their muscles, or rather their tongues, and proclaiming
"Let die whole world go. We should worry. We can defend
ourselves with a strong navy and air force/' Haven't they
heard about Pearl Harbor or the atom bomb? Was the last
war all in vain? Haven't they heard that we are not self-
c 126 1
sufficient? Won't a garrison state become a police state? And
do they forget that nothing succeeds like success? If they do,
conquerors don't. I suppose any moment even America
First may emerge full blown again, except that I hope this
time it is more properly entitled American Last last on the
The re-emergence of the straight isolationist doctrine the
same people saying the same things we heard before the
whirlwind a decade ago is to me the great regurgitation.
They remind me of Charles Lamb's remark: "I cannot make
present things present to me."
But fortunately the great debate about foreign policy,
which was mostly a debate about military strategy and not
foreign policy, appears to be about over. And, none too soon,
it appears that we have about made up our mind to stop fight-
ing each other, gather all the like-minded allies we can find
and settle down seriously to the very serious business of get-
ting stronger than the brigands that are preying on the world.
Perhaps an occasional national debate like this one is a
healthy thing. It clears the air, releases tensions, focuses
torpid attention on great issues, and melts divisionist contro-
versy into a mould of common conviction.
Maybe we have about reached a common conviction that
peace through power is our salvation. Maybe we have decided
that only by once again redressing the balance of power in
the world and confronting Russia with a preponderance* of
force can we thwart an imperialism more sinister than the
world has ever seen.
But we should profit from an experience like this, because
it won't be the last time we get rattled; it won't be the last
ADLAI E. STEVENSON
time we doubt our beliefs and believe our doubts.
I suppose, for example, we will have to assume that the
isolationist argument will have at least nine lives, for the very
human 'reason that it pleases the average man because it
spares him any immediate inconvenience or sacrifice, and
it flatters his sense of power to feel that America can live
alone and like it.
And have we learned that while the whole nation may
debate the broad policy of whether to defend or not to defend,
whether to defend alone or with allies, the details of the
where, when and how we will defend are sometimes questions
of military, political and diplomatic strategy which cannot
be settled safely or wisely by public debate? Nor can they
be wisely settled by men who behave, to borrow a line from
King Lear, "as if they were God's spies," but who are neither
military strategists nor geopoliticians.
Have we learned that what 160 million Americans know
about our plans the enemy knows too? Have we learned that
hunting scapegoats is not a foreign policy?
Have we learned that our mission is the prevention, not
just the survival of a major war? Have we discovered that
there are no Gibraltars, no fortresses impregnable to death or
ideas, any more?
While the debate talks incessantly in terms of our national
crisis and our national survival, it is not just our crisis, it is
the crisis of the whole free world. Have we learned that
making domestic political capital out of world crisis is not
the way to win friends and influence people? Do we realize
that the Russians have already gained a portion of their ob-
jective by using our indecision and moral confusion to weaken
our leadership In the free world? The Russians know the
value of even reluctant allies in this final struggle for power.
Do we? Or are we going to risk the slow strangulation that
comes from whittling away the friendly world?
If we have not learned that having the most to lose we
have the most to save, then, I say, let us pray.
But if we have, if the immensity of the responsibility
and the stakes has dawned upon us, then the great debate
has been a great blessing and we are on the way to thwart this
latest greatest threat to all this university symbolizes.
Why should we be poor in spirit? The taisk is great, the
price is high, but the prize is better than life. With Europe
and its great industrial concentration and forward bases
shored up and steadfast, with access to the tin and rubber of
south Asia, middle eastern oil, African manganese and uran-
ium, the scales are still weighted to the West, and the waves
of the future are still free. Aggression must be called aggres-
sion in the United Nations. But in insisting on no equivoca-
tion about the legal and moral position, we dare not forget
that the allegiance of India, uncommitted to East or West,
is the ultimate objective of both East and West in the Orient.
And we dare not fall into the trap, the oubliette, Russia has
prepared for us in China. War there will drain our resources
and at the same time make China completely dependent
militarily on Russia. With every Russian jet at least six
Russians go along. A weakened China means a stronger
Russia pressing from behind against Hong Kong, Indo China,
South Asia, and finally India. Hounded by people of small
vision and great emotion it will not be easy to withstand the
pressure to help solve Russia's problems with China. And
ADLAI E. STEVENSON
with us mired in the morass of the China mainland the
Soviet could turn next summer to some unfinished business
with Tito in Yugoslavia.
Pray heaven we can remember amid the discord and cha-
grin of defeat that military force alone cannot win the day
for us in Asia. Our moral authority there is low because we
are white and Asia is colored. Desperately poor, 'struggling
to shake off the shackles of white colonialism, Asia is just
now passing thru the era of revolution, independence and
self-determination that swept the Western world long ago.
It will take preat patience, great insight, great restraint for us
who see the whole world in our own image and likeness to
win confidence and faith in the great uncommitted areas of
Asia. It can't be done with the white man's sword. But it can
be done; they can be convinced that communist imperialism
is not liberation but a more deadly enemy of normal aspira-
tions for freedom and social justice than colonialism.
Are we, I wonder, moving as a nation from our Greek
period to our Roman period; from a period in which the
validity of our ideas was the important consideration to one in
which their effectiveness is crucial? Good intentions and re-
liance on the rightness of our cause will avail us little against
an enemy that cares nothing about validity and is concerned
only with effectiveness. The Greeks were right, but they died.
A danger greater, it seems to me, than Germany or Japan
in the last war, or Communist imperialism now is moral
fatigue, disintegration, half loyalty, timid faith the "weak-
ening of the central convictions to which Western man
hitherto has pledged allegiance/'
When freedom didn't exist it too was a fighting faith that
men would die for. But now that it is old, it looks a little
pale and gentle and lacks the appeal to the militant, irra-
tional sentiments once mobilized by conquering religions and
now by imperial communism.
But communism resolves no anxieties. It multiplies item.
It organizes terror. It is without spiritual content or comfort.
It provides no basic security. In the long run it cannot cure
the disease of this anxious age. But its short term methods
are grimly effective. We can't sit still and wait for the fever
to run its course. Without combative faith in our spiritual
heritage, we won't long hold out against the subtleties of
selfishness and fear. If Western civilization is to save its
body, it must save its soul too. It must awake again the
emotionalism, the confidence, the defiant faith of a resolute
breed of men to whom liberty and justice mean something
positive every day not just when war has reduced us to
the stark issue of self-preservation.
It's easy to care mightily then; it's hard now. It's easier
to fight for principles than to live up to them. But now is the
time that a passionate belief counts if we are to avoid another
war, and if we are to avoid the greater menace of cowardly
surrender to our own doubts and fears.
Don't the universities have a large, indeed the leading,
role to play in articulating the purpose and the combative
faith of a great people in this era of convulsive transition
and this hour of discord and doubt? Don't they know best
what we stand to lose?
We have proclaimed our military weakness, our vacilla-
tion, our hesitation, our fear. Enough of that! The test of a
nation is defeat. The time has come to proclaim our faith in
ADLAI E. STEVENSON
all its might and majesty. History will go on and "The For-
feiture of Freedom" would be a sorry titld to this chapter;
rather the historian must write that in arousing America to
re-define and defend its ideals the ugliest despotism dug its
grave in the twentieth century.
It was in 1776 that Tom Paine wrote: "The heart that
feels not now is dead; the blood of his children will curse
his cowardice, who shrinks back at a time when little might
have saved the whole."
Stevenson s speech at Northwestern? like all the Governors
full-dress efforts in this line y was written })j himself and
delivered from a carefully revised text. A speech of a very
different type was delivered by the Governor in May of 1950,
when President Truman stopped off in Chicago to attend the
Jefferson Jubilee in the Chicago Stadium. Where the au-
dience in the Northwestern Chapel had heen nonpartisan,
small and intellectually well-versed in the Governors subject
matter, the stadium audience was huge (20,000), partisan
and excited about hearing the President. The occasion called
for an apparently extemporaneous introduction along the
lines of the ones that Stevenson had provided so frequently
and expertly at the Council on Foreign Relations. Stevenson
spoke, from a floodlighted box, as follows:
Mr. President, we welcome you to Illinois which gave
Abraham Lincoln to the world and many other men and
women who have added luster to our nation's history
including the majority leader of the United States who is
here tonight. But I dare not call him by name lest it he
thought that there is something political about this celebra-
We are proud that Illinois and Chicago could be host to
this celebration in honor of the immortal philosopher of
democracy Thomas Jefferson for whom liberty meant
not only freedom of the person, but freedom of the mind and
spirit as well.
To do our reverent honor on the 150th anniversary of
his election to the presidency, we meet in this hall which has
witnessed in our own time so many fateful events in
American history including a hot night just six years ago
when a senator from Missouri was nominated to be vice
President of the United States. We are proud it happened
And, Mr. President, while we refresh our memory of
Jefferson's firm faith in the people, in life, liberty and the
pursuit of happiness for all alike, may I remind you that
until two years ago only three men of the political faith
of Jefferson had been elected Governor of Illinois since the
Civil War, The first was John Peter Altgeld the Eagle
Forgotten a German immigrant; the second was Edward K
Dunne, but one generation removed from the old sod of
Ireland; the third was Henry Homer, son of an immigrant
and beloved in the memory of all those here tonight. May I
remind you, Mr. President, that John Peter Altgeld was
a Protestant, that Edward F. Dunne was a Catholic, that
Henry Homer was a Jew.
That is the American story; that was the dream of Thomas
Jefferson. And here, Mr, President, in the City of Chicago,
ADLAI E. STEVENSON
on the prairies of Illinois, his descendants believe in human
freedom; we believe in equal opportunity for all; we believe
in special privilege for none; we believe in the democratic
institutions; we believe in our chief executive; we believe in
you, Mr. President!
In the age old struggle against tyranny over the bodies
and minds and the souls of men we know there can be no
respite, no rest for you or for us.
"On the plains of hesitation
Bleach the bones of countless thousands
Who, on the eve of victory, rested
And resting, died/*
As each day, in the tradition of Jefferson, you forge a
broader shield for free men everywhere, we join our prayers
to yours that out of the ugly clamor and conflict there will
come your heart's desire and ours peace on earth.
FFECTIVENESS IN GOVERNMENT entails self-exfression in
action as well as in words. In a gubernatorial position, such
assertion and such action may be observed in two forms:
legislation that originates in the administration, and the veto.
Legislation, however, may he, and usually is, modified by
the legislators and may also in any case, be best inspected in
its own operative consequences. Stevenson s numerous veto
messages, of which half a dozen follow, exhibit his prose style
to excellent advantage. What is more to the point, they show
his ideas not in the abstract but in action; for the difference
between a veto and a speech is comparable to the difference
between shadow boxing and having a fight.
Each veto message is preceded by a brief summary of the
background of the legislation involved and of the political
significance of the veto itself.
The Eroyles Bill
Most celebrated, quoted, and controversial of Stevenson's
vetoes was that of the so-called Eroyles Bill, introduced by
Mr. Paul Eroyles, an Illinois State Senator from the Southern
town of Mount Vernon. Eroyles had previously headed an
Illinois equivalent of the House Un-American Activities
Committee which inquired into subversive activities and wr
ADLAI E. STEVENSON
finances in Chicago generally, and the University of Chicago
in particular, in 1947, The hill was earnestly advocated hy
Eroyles not only on the assembly floor hut in private consul-
tation with the Governor. It was hacked, hy the powerful
Illinois Department of the American Legion. It secured
further public endorsement when it was opposed, hefore the
senate sitting as a committee of the whole., hy the states top
Communist, a Negro named Claude Lightfoot, whose he-
havior hecame so ohjectionahle that he had to he removed
hy the sergeant-at-arms. The hill was passed 35 to 15 in the
senate and 87 to 15 in the house. The Governors veto
message read as follows:
I herewith return, without my approval, Senate Bill No.
102, entitled "An Act to protect against subversive activities
by making it a crime to commit or advocate acts intended to
effect the overthrow of the Government of the United States
or the State of Illinois or of any political subdivision thereof
by violence or other unlawful means, or to attempt or con-
spire so to do, by definint subversive organizations and mak-
ing them illegal, by establishing procedures to insure the
loyalty of candidates for public office and of public officers
and employees, and providing for the enforcement of the
provisions of said Act, and providing penalties for the vio-
I veto and withhold my approval from this bill for the
"The stated purpose of this bill is to combat the menace of
world communism. That the Communist party and all it
stands for is a danger to our Republic, as real as it is
sinister, is clear to all who have the slightest understanding
of our democracy. No one attached to the principles of our
society will debate this premise or quarrel with the objectives
of this bill.
Agreed upon ends, our concern is with means. It is In the
choice of methods to deal with recognized problems that we
Americans, In and out of public life, so often develop differ-
ences of opinion. Our freedom to do so is a great source of
strength and, If not impaired by mistakes of our own, will
contribute greatly to the ultimate confusion of the enemies
The issue with respect to means raised by this bill has
two aspects. One is the question of the need for it In relation
to existing weapons for the control of subversives. The other
Is whether this addition to our arsenal may not be a two-
edged sword, more dangerous to ourselves than to our foes.
Were the latter alone involved, I should hesitate to impose
my judgment upon that of the majority of the General
Assembly. But it Is precisely because the evil at hand has
long since been identified and provided against that we
here in Illinois need not now do something bad just for the
sake of doing something.
What are the facts with respect to need? On June 4 last,
the Supreme Court of the United States affirmed the con-
viction of the twelve top leaders of the Communist party in
the United States. They were indicted under the provisions
of an Act of Congress (the so-called "Smith Act") for con-
spiring (1) to organize as the Communist party a society for
the teaching and advocacy of the overthrow and destruction
of the government of the United States (which by definition
in the Act includes the governments of the states and their
ADLAI E. STEVENSON
political subdivisions) by force and violence, and (2) to
advocate and teach the overthrow o the government of the
United States, as so defined, by force and violence.
Close upon the heels of this opinion, the federal govern-
ment has moved to indict twenty-one more known Com-
munist leaders. It is ? of course, no secret that the Federal
Bureau of Investigation has identified and has under observa-
tion virtually every member of the Communist party and
every serious sympathizer, and is prepared to take such
persons into custody on short notice.
But Senate Bill 102 is unnecessary not alone because of
the federal anti-subversive law and activity, but because
under the existing laws of Illinois it is now, and has been
since 1919, a felony for any person to advocate the reforma-
tion or overthrow, by violence or other unlawful means, of
the state or federal government, or to assist in the organiza-
tion, or to become a member of, any organization dedicated
to that objective. Our laws also prohibit the compensation
from state funds of subversive employees or members of
Indeed, it is ironic that the Ober law of Maryland, on
which" Senate Bill 102 is patterned, was itself an effort to
make Maryland's sedition laws as comprehensive as Illinois'!
Senate Bill No. 102 makes it a felony to commit or
attempt any act intended to overthrow by force the federal
or state governments, or any of their political subdivisions;
to advocate or teach the commission of such acts; or to have
any connection with an organization devoted to such an ob-
jective. This approach parallels and duplicates criminal
statutes of both the federal and state governments already in
effect. Nor am I aware of complaints by any State's Attorneys
throughout Illinois that our present sedition laws are in-
Not only does Senate Bill No. 102 appear wholly unnec-
cessary, but I agree with the Bar Associations that if the
present sedition laws could be strengthened by expressly
prohibiting the commission of acts as well as the advocacy
thereof, this could best be accomplished by amending the
existing laws rather than enacting new and more laws.
Criminal laws, especially on subjects of vital importance,
should not be confused by patchwork and duplication.
But it is in the enforcement provisions that I find this
bill most objectionable. The Attorney General of Illinois
is directed to appoint a Special Assistant Attorney General
who must assemble and deliver to the State's Attorney of
each county all information relating to subversive acts or
activities within such county. The local State's Attorney then
must present this matter to the Grand Jury. The Assistant
Attorney General in Springfield must maintain complete
records of all such information which may, with the per-
mission of the Attorney General, be made public.
This transmission of such information and the subsequent
presentation of it to the Grand Jury is mandatory under the
Act and covers in terms all information, however incon-
clusive or insignificant I know of no precedent of any such
interference with the normal discretion accorded to a public
prosecutor. One of the important responsibilities of State's
Attorneys and one of the greatest protections of the citizen
is the exercise of sound judgment in sifting the many rumors,
charges and counter-charges which come to State's Attorneys
ADLAI E. STEVENSON
attention. This is true in the operation of the criminal laws
generally, and it must, of necessity, be even more true when
we are dealing with criminal laws relating in large degree
to the state of men's minds.
I can see nothing but grave peril to the reputations of in-
nocent people in this perpetuation of rumors and hearsay.
When we already have sedition laws prohibiting the offenses
to which these provisions relate, I see more danger than
safety in such radical change in the administration of crim-
Other substantive provisions in the bill are intended to
assure the loyalty of the employees of the state government
and its political subdivisions. All agencies of government
must establish procedures to ascertain that there are no
reasonable grounds to believe that any applicant for employ-
ment is committed, by act or teaching, to the overthrow of
the government by force or is a member of an organization
dedicated to that purpose. Thus, one who wishes to work
for the state or to each in a school must himself carry the
burden of proving the absence of any reasonable grounds
for believe that he is subversive or even belongs to a sub-
versive organization. The bill does not even require that the
applicant for employment know the purpose of such an or-
Provisions as to those already employed also shift the bur-
den of proof to the employee. With all the mutitude of
employing agencies throughout the State, each establishing
its own rule and procedures for the enforcement of these
provisions, it is easy to see what variations there might be
[ 140 ]
and what possibilities for discrimination depending upon die
wisdom and fairness of the particular employer.
By such provisions as these, irreparable injury to the repu-
tation of innocent persons is more than a possibility, it is a
likelihood. If this bill became law, it would be only human
for employees to play safe and shirk duties which might
bring upon them resentment or criticism. Public service
requires independent and courageous action on matters
which affect countless private interests. We cannot afford
to make public employees vulnerable to malicious charges
of disloyalty. So far as the employers are concerned heads
of departments and of schools and so on the only safe
policy would be timid employment practices which could
only result in a lowering of the level of ability, independence
and courage in our public agencies, schools and colleges.
Lastly, the bill provides that candidates for public office,
other than offices for which an oath is prescribed by the
Constitution, shall file an affidavit that he is not a sub-
versive person. The Attorney General informs me that, des-
pite the exception made, this requirement is of dubious con-
Does anyone seriously think that a real traitor will hesitate
to sign a loyalty oath? Of course not. Really dangerous sub-
versives and saboteurs will be caught by careful, constant,
professional investigation, not by pieces of paper.
The whole notion of loyalty inquisitions is a natural char-
acteristic of the police state, not of democracy. Knowing his
rule rests upon compulsion rather than consent, the dictator
must always assume the disloyalty, not for a few but of many,
ADLAI E. STEVENSON
and guard against it by continual inquisition and "liquida-
tion" of the unreliable. The history of Soviet Russia is a
modern example of this ancient practice. The democratic
state, on the other hand, is based on the consent of its mem-
bers. The vast majority of our people are intensely loyal, as
they have amply demonstrated. To question, even by impli-
cation, the loyalty and devotion of a large group of citizens
is to create an atmosphere of suspicion and distrust which is
neither justified, healthy nor consistent with our traditions.
Legislation of this type, in Illinois and elsewhere, is the
direct result of the menacing gains of communism in Europe
and Asia. But it would be unrealistic, if not naive, to assume
that such legislation would be effective in combatting Com-
munist treachery in America. Such state laws have nowhere
uncovered a single case of subversive disloyalty.
Basically, the effect of this legislation, then, will be less
the detection of subversives and more the intimidation of
honest citizens. But we cannot suppress thought and expres-
sion and preserve the freedoms guaranteed by the Bill of
Rights. That is our dilemma. In time of danger we seek to
protect ourselves from sedition, but in doing so we imperil
the very freedoms we seek to protect, just as we did in the
evil atmosphere of the alien and sedition laws of John
Adams' administration and just as Britain did during the
Napoleonic era. To resolve the dilemma we will all agree
that in the last analysis the Republic must be protected at
all costs, or there will be no freedoms to preserve or even
regain. But if better means of protection already exist, then
surely we should not further imperil the strength of free-
dom in search of illusory safety.
We must fight traitors with laws* We already have the
laws. We must fight falsehood and evil ideas with truth and
better ideas. We have them in plenty. But we must not con-
fuse the two. Laws infringing our rights and intimidating
unoffending persons without enlarging our security will
neither catch subversives nor win converts to our better ideas.
And in the long run evil ideas can be counteracted and con-
quered not by laws but only by better ideas.
Finally, the states are not, in my judgment, equipped to
deal with the threat of the world Communist movement
which inspired this bill. Communism threatens us because
it threatens world peace. The great problems with which
communism confronts us are problems of foreign relations
and national defense. Our Constitution wisely leaves the
solution of such matters to the national government.
In conclusion, while I respect the motives and patriotism
of the proponents of this bill, I think there is in it more of
danger to the liberties we seek to protect than of security for
the Republic. It reverses our traditional concept of justice
by placing upon the accused the burden of proving himself
innocent. It makes felons of persons who may be guilty
more of bad judgment than of anything else. It jeopardizes
the freedom of sincere and honest citizens in an attempt to
catch and punish subversives. It is unnecessary and redun-
I know full well that this veto will be distorted and mis-
understood, even as telling the truth of what I knew about
the reputation of Alger Hiss was distorted and misunder-
stood. I know that to veto this bill in this period of grave
anxiety will be unpopular with many. But I must, in good
ADLAI E. STEVENSON
conscience, protest against any unnecessary suppression of
our ancient rights as free men. Moreover, we will win the
contest of ideas that afflicts the world not by suppressing
these rights, but by their triumph. We must not burn down
the house to kill the rats.
Public Housing Bill
In Illinois, as in many other states, public housing is a
subject which creates acute tensions and sharp differences
of opinion among many individuals who are affected for
many different reasons. Real estate hoards and associations
are usually mobilized against public housing projects, as an
invasion of private enterprise. In individual neighborhoods,
especially in urban ones, local economic units are affected
favorably, or adversely hy housing developments. They react
accordingly. Finally, race hostilities are often aroused and
may he then utilized hy the other interested groups espe-
cially when, for example, a low-cost development which may
he, largely tenanted hy colored, tenants, is adjacent to a local-
ity already inhabited hy some other closely-knit racial group.
In Senate Bill 50, these motivations, especially the latter,
were skillfully disguised under a fagade purporting to make
the issue one of "home-rule" and (< local government!' The
hill provided, in effect, that housing site developments he
approved hy a referendum among the neighbors. The salient
passages in the Stevenson veto read as follows:
This bill provides that no new Housing Authority may
be created nor may a federally aided housing project be com-
menced or enlarged until approved by a majority of die voters
residing within the area of operation, except diat if the
project is in Chicago the residents of a ward any part of
which is within two miles of any part of such project can
vote at the referendum.
It evidently is the legislative intent that, except in Chi-
cago, all the voters resident in the city, village, etc, shall be
eligible to vote upon the question.
However, in Chicago the vote on such questions is on the
basis of all precincts in any ward, any part of which ward
is within two miles of any part of such proposed project or
proposed enlargement of an existing project.
Thus, an individual who lives in a ward, a part of which
is within two miles of the project, is eligible to vote even
though he may live five miles away from the project, if the
ward is sufficiently elongated to give him this tenuous hold
on suffrage* But another person living at the edge of a ward
nearest to the project, yet just in excess of two miles from
the project, is ineligible to vote.
This bill would negate the principle of representative
government by requiring frequent referenda on detailed ad-
ministrative matters, instead of on questions of broad pub-
lic policy. Responsibility for providing low rent housing has
been assigned to local housing authorities, subject to controls
vested in the Public Housing Administration of the federal
government, the State Housing Board, where state aid is in-
volved, and the local municipal governing body. No pro-
gram may go forward without the scrutiny and approval of
the elected representatives of the people. The referendum
method provided in this bill would substitute a town hall
ADLAI E. STEVENSON
meeting for representative government and is neither wise
nor practical on isolated issues, where the legislature has
provided a system of checks and balances. It would enable
an interested minority to organize the opposition of those
who might be fearful of, or inconvenienced by a proposed
housing project, thereby blocking an improvement which
would be beneficial to the entire community.
This bill would retard the construction of urgently needed
homes. Each new project, each new plan, each new site
would require a separate interpretation to the voters. Ex-
perience has shown that every additional control affixed to
the administration of the program has been at the expense
of the results.
If the principle of this bill were sound, why should not
we require a referendum within two miles of each proposed
new school in the city of Chicago before it could be built?
And should not the state then require a referendum within
two miles of any airport? Should the residents immediately
adjacent to Congress Street have to approve its construction?
Should we require a referendum around each particular area
where a park is to be located? Should the surrounding neigh-
borhood vote on whether to have new police and fire stations,
hospitals, streetcar bams, a library, a tuberculosis sanitarium,
a post office? Would the sponsors of this principle want each
neighborhood to vote on whether people from other neigh-
borhoods could use its parks and libraries?
It would be a dangerous doctrine to say that a public
improvement which by law and judicial interpretation is for
a public purpose, is now of concern only to the people in
the immediate surrounding neighborhood. Who is to deter-
mine where the limit of interest ends? If this theory were to
prevail, why two miles? Why, one might ask, should it not
be one house, or one block, or one hundred yards? To what
extent would the sponsors of this Bill carry the notion that
public improvements are only for the benefit, and therefore
only the concern, of people in the immediate vicinity. More-
over, if this type of legislation were to become law in respect
to low cost housing on what logical basis could the same right
be withheld from the residents of areas to be redeveloped by
I think it unwise, indeed dangerous, to substitute govern-
ment by referendum for government by representation even
in this limited area. Nor can I approve such a transparent
device to scuttle the low cost housing program and reverse
the long-established public policy of the state.
Trailer Camp Bill
In Illinois, as elsewhere, trailer camps often constitute a
nuisance, if not a health menace, to communities in which
they are located. House hill 1104 provided a case where the
real not, as in the housing hill, the ^pretended issue was
local versus state government. Stevenson s views on this far-
reaching subject are summarized in his veto.
I veto and withhold my approval from this bill for the
This bill appropriates $86,000 to the Department of Pub-
lic health to license and regulate trailer parks. I am vetoing
this appropriation because I intend to veto House BiU No.
851 providing for such licensing and regulation.
ADLAI E. STEVENSON
I recognize that trailer camps have created a genuine pub-
lic health problem which has become acute in several places
in the state and requires regulation. At the same time I also
find in these bills another example of the constant migra-
tion of local repsonsibility to higher levels of government.
We will not arrest the concentration of governmental author-
ity at points further and further removed from the people if
we persist in passing legislation of this kind which is clearly
usurpation by the state of what should be a function of local
If local government refuses to accept and discharge its
responsibilities, the people will have only themselves to blame
for the expansion of central, and the shrinkage and im-
potence of local, governments. While, as I say, I do not
question the desirability, indeed the necessity, for the reg-
ulation here proposed, I emphatically disapprove the abdica-
tion of local responsibility for local problems. And I do not
wish to be a party to what seems to me a wholly unnecessary
extension of state services which can and should be per-
formed locally by city or county governments.
Old Age Pensions
Illinois s 165,000 old age pensioners were greatly cheered
in 1951 by the introduction of Senate Bill 556 which would
have given them all a blanket 10 percent raise and cost the
state of Illinois $14,300,000. The hill was introduced by the
late Wallace Thompson, the Senates Republican leader
like Stevenson an example of t( the better element" in politics
and noted as a vigorus verbal proponent of economy in gov~
ernment. In fact, since the bill provided no means of revenue
for the funds it proposed to disburse, it was less a contra-
diction of Thompsons stand on economy, than an effort to
give the Governor a political black eye. Illinois old age pen-
sioners along with many of their relatives who naturally
favor any economic benefits conferred on them comprise
a formidable political bloc. With not much to do except talk
politics and preserve their rights? they have a Pensions
Union whose president, upon Stevenson s veto of this bill,
announced that the first item on her subsequent order of
business would be to defeat the Governor in h,is campaign
for re-election. Stevenson could have ducked the punch, and
parried, by signing the bill and asking the Republicans who
passed it to appropriate the necessary funds. Instead he wrote
a veto message which included the following caustic para-
The effect o this item is to require the state to spend
many millions of dollars in excess of estimated available
funds. Its sponsors, who profess the virtues of fiscal respon-
sibility, made no pretense of providing the necessary funds
by increased taxes. Furthermore, the Public Aid Commission
is already required by law and does adjust old age pensions
and other public assistance grants periodically in accordance
with fluctuations in the cost of living.
I can only assume, therefore, that the authors of this
transparently political gesture were more concerned with
raising the hopes of our aged dependents than their incomes.
Perhaps such cynicism is good politics but it seems to me
cruel as well as fiscally irresponsible and, may I add, futile,
ADLAI E. STEVENSON
to the extent that its objective was political intimidation of
the Governor. Had the purpose been philanthropic rather
than demagogic, the authors would also have at least covered
the recipients of other forms of assistance. But the others, the
dependent children and recipients of general relief, are not
organized politically as some have pointed out.
Sunday Car Bill
In 1949, Stevenson vetoed a fall which would have fixed
a minimum price for cigarettes, on the ground that the free
enterprise system in general allows anyone to sell cigarettes,
or any other legal commodity for a loss if he feels like it. In
1951, the Assembly passed Senate Bill 504, supported by the
great majority of the states second-hand car-dealers, which
was aimed at those few among their competitors who, by
their insistence on staying open on Sunday, forced all the
rest to do likewise. The Governors veto is noteworthy as a
further definition and demonstration of his views on the
meaty subject of economic restraints generally:
I veto and withhold my approval from this bill for the fol-
This bill makes it a criminal offense for any person to sell
a motor vehicle on Sunday.
The Attorney General advises me that this bill is tm-
costitutional, and I append hereto a copy of his opinion to
I cannot forbear to add that this is one case in which
the constitutional objection and sound policy clearly coincide.
1 150 1
Under this bill anyone who chooses to sell his automobile
on Sunday could be imprisoned for as long as ninety days.
Surely our public officials charged with law enforcement
have more important tasks than to seek out and prosecute
persons engaging in such transactions. If such a restriction
on Sunday trade is sound for automobiles, why should it not
be extended to newspapers, groceries, ice cream cones and
other harmless commercial transactions? Carried to its logical
extreme, any business group with sufficient influence in the
legislature can dictate the hours of business of its compe-
titors. And if hours, why not prices?
Under our free enterpices system government should not
interfere by regulatory or prohibitory laws in the business
field except (1) where the activity in question is directly
related to the public health, safety, morals or welfare or (2)
to enforce competition. Traffic in automobiles does not qua-
lify under the one, and, so far as the latter is concerned, its
only purpose and effect are to restrain competition.
Surely such restrictive legislation as this is not compatible
with our earnest convictions and constant proclamations
about the merits of free enterprise.
Legislative log-rolling whereby one legislator gets others
to vote for local improvements in his district on a reciprocal
basis is an ancient and transparent political device but
one which enjoys a traditional acceptance in Congress as
well as state legislatures. Stevenson vetoed all such bills
(which would have involved total appropriations of some
ADLAI E. STEVENSON
$50,000,000) passed by the General Assembly and attached
a succinct statement of his reasons for doing so in the case
of Senate Bill 216:
I KerewitK return, without my approval, Senate Bill No.
210, entitled "An Act providing for the construction of a
state highway bridge across the Illinois river at the city of
Beardstown, and making an appropriation therefor."
I veto and withhold my approval from this bill for the fol-
The bill authorizes and directs the Department of Public
Works and Buildings to construct a suitable highway bridge
across the Illinois River at Beardstown, at such location as
may be selected by the department; and appropriates $3,250,-
000 from the Motor Fuel Tax Fund for this purpose.
The General Assembly long ago established the desirable
policy of leaving the details of the expenditure of funds
upon highway improvements to the Department of Public
Works and Buildings. Under existing laws, the department
has power and discretion to make expenditures from a gen-
eral appropriation to it from the road fund, on the various
classifications of highways specified in the statutes. If a par-
ticular improvement proposed is on one of such highways,
the time, manner, and place of its construction are rightly
left to the determination of the expert engineers of the Div-
ision of Highways.
This bill is a direct departure from this traditional and
wholly beneficial practice. Its effect is to deny to the
department the discretion it should exercise in formulating
a program of highway improvements on the basis of scien-
tific traffic counts and other professional methods of ascertain-
ing priority in the spending of available funds.
Entirely apart from whether the department would be
legally bound to carry out the direction contained in a bill
of this nature, the approach is unsound. Illinois has suffered
too much in the past from the construction of highway
projects on a political, rather than on a traffic, basis.
People generally condemn the log-rolling, pork-barreling,
and political back-scratching which have so long plagued
the federal Congress in its appropriations for river and harbor
and other internal improvements. We should avoid the same
practices by a close and impartial scrutiny of the decisions
of the department by the General Assembly and by all other
citizens concerned with the efficient expenditure of public
funds. But the evil so to be guarded against is only com-
pounded by special bills of the kind under consideration.
It should be for the department to determine, without
reference to any considerations other than the priority of
relative need determined on a statewide basis, when a bridge
should be built at Beardstown or any other place; and when
that determination is made with respect to a location on a
federal aid or state bond issue route, the department needs
no special act like this one for authority to proceed. The
program of construction for the next biennium published
by the department already makes provision for a bridge at
Beardstown on Federal Aid Route 4. If adequate highway
funds are available a matter to which the General Assem-
bly is giving its attention currently this Beardstown bridge
will be built anyway. This fact only underscores my conclu-
sion that, at best, legislation of this kind is superfluous* At
ADLAI E. STEVENSON
the worst, as in the case of a bridge not having the priority
of traffic need of the one at Beardstown, it is an unwarranted
interference with any honest professional effort to spend
highway funds for the benefit of all the citizens of Illinois.
There is also grave doubt as to the legality of this appro-
priation from the Motor Fuel Tax Fund. When considered
in connection with the existing law with respect to the
monthly allocations of the Motor Fuel Tax Fund, this ap-
propriation creates difficulties that would probably require
further legislative clarification.
There is another particular in which special bills of this
character are undesirable. It is the custom of the General
Assembly to appropriate for highway purposes for each bien-
nium the amount of the anticipated revenues for highway
construction and maintenance. If special project appropria-
tions are passed, the funds appropriated are sterilized and
cannot be used for other purposes even though the special
project may not be constructed due to unforeseeable circum-
stances, such as a shortage of steel, for example.
Next to Stevenson s veto of the Broyles Bill, his most
quoted composition in this sympathetic literary form is 'prob-
ably that of a hill promulgated by Illinois bird-lovers, and
passed by both houses in 1949:
I herewith return, without my approval, Senate Bill No.
93 entitled, "An Act to provide Protection to Insectivorous
Birds by Restraining Cats/' This is the so-called "Cat Bill/'
I veto and withhold my approval from this bill for the fol-
It would impose fines on owners or keepers who permitted
their cats to run at large off their premises. It would permit
any person to capture, or call upon the police to pick up and
imprison, cats at large. It would permit the use of traps. The
bill would have statewide application on farms, in villages,
and in metropolitan centers.
This legislation has been introduced in the past several
sessions of the legislature, and it has, over the years, been
the source of much comment not all of which has been in
a serious vein. It may be that the General Assembly has now
seen fit to refer it to one who can view it with a fresh out-
look. Whatever the reasons for passage at this session, I can-
not believe there is a widespread public demand for this law
or that it could, as a practical matter, be enforced.
Furthermore, I cannot agree that it should be the declared
public policy of Illinois that a cat visiting a neighbor's yard
or crossing the highway is a public nuisance. It is in the
nature of cats to do a certain amount of unescorted roaming.
Many live with their owners in apartments or other restricted
premises, and I doubt if we want to make their every brief
foray an opportunity for a small game hunt by zealous
citizens with traps or otherwise. I am afraid this bill could
only create discord, recrimination and enmity. Also consider
the owners' dilemma: To escort a cat abroad on a leash is
against the nature of the cat, and to permit it to venture
forth for exercise unattended into a night of new dangers is
against the nature of the owner. Moreover, cats perform
useful service, particularly in rural areas, in combatting
ADLAI E. STEVENSON
rodents work they necessarily perform alone and without
regard for property lines.
We are all interested in protecting certain varieties of
birds. That cats destroy some birds, I well know, but I
believe this legislation would further but little the worthy
cause to which its proponents give such unselfish effort
The problem of cat versus bird is as old Ss time. If we at-
tempt to resolve it by legislation, who knows but what we
may be called upon to take sides as well in the age-old prob-
lems of dog versus cat, bird versus bird, even bird versus
worm. In my opinion, the State of Illinois and its local
governing bodies already have enough to do without trying
to control feline delinquency.
For these reasons, and not because I love birds the less
or cats the more, I veto and withhold my approval from
Senate Bill No. 93.
Assistant Secretary of the Navy H. Struve Hansel shakes hands with
Stevenson on June 1, 1945, after presenting him with Navy's highest
civilian award for services in World War II. Citation reads as follows:
"For exceptional performance of outstanding service to the
United States Navy as Special Assistant to the Secretary of the
Navy from 30 June 1941 to 13 June 1944.
"During this most critical period of the Navy's greatest expansion,
Mr. Stevenson rendered invaluahle service to the entire Naval
Establishment by ably assisting and counseling the Secretary of
the Navy in the efficient operation of his office. Much credit is
due Mr. Stevenson for his many suggestions and ideas which
materially improved the organization and functioning of the
"By his keen understanding and intelligent appraisal of difficult
problems, by his exercise of sound judgment and by his extreme
devotion to duty, Mr. Stevenson has distinguished himself in a
manner deserving of the Navy's highest civilian award."
Stevenson (right, holding glove) with Major John Boettiger (whose
wife was FDR's daughter, Anna) and Lt. Commander Malcolm S.
McLean (center) at San Pietro, Italy, in December, 1943. Town was
still under fire from Germans at Cassino.
Stevenson with General Charles de Gaulle, French Ambassador to U. S.,
Henri Bonnet and Paul Miller, general manager of the Associated
Press, at Washington reception for de Gaulle in 1945.
With naval officers, Ste-
venson inspected Canal
Zone in 1942. During
World \Var II, Steven-
son inspected all theaters
India, covered almost
50,000 miles, mostly by
With Henry Wallace, then Vice-President, and Secretary o the Navy
Frank Knox, Stevenson inspected Naval Air Station in August, 1943.
Wallace and Knox, who died the next year, autographed this picture.
In 1941, Stevenson was practicing
law in Chicago.
In 1945, he helped organize United
In 1942, Governor tried out Link trainer in Canal Zone. His caption for
this scrap-book picture: "Waiting for the weather to clear."
At London in 1945, Stevenson chats with Ukrainian delegate Dr.
Manuilsky at meeting of U. N. Preparatory Commission.
At Lake Success in December, 1947, Stevenson talks with advisors to
United Kingdom delegation to second session o the U.N.
At October, 1946, meeting of U.N. General Assembly in New York,
Stevenson sits with Warren Austin (left) and John Foster Dulles . . .
chats with lady delegate. . .
smokes while Gromyko holds
forth . . .
studies while Gromyko listens .
listens to speech with Eleanor
Roosevelt (second from left) . . .
At January, 1946, meeting of General Assembly in London, Stevenson
talks to Secretary of State James F. Byrnes. At right is Senator Tom
Connally, behind him Postmaster General Frank C. Walker. Senator
Vandenberg talks to John Foster Dulles behind Stevenson.
Stevenson relaxes in Lake Forest
swimming pool (1939) . , .
plays golf with friends Robert Clark
and Edward K, Dunn at French
Lick, Indiana (1947) . . .
and goes for a sleigh ride, pulled by "Colo-
nel" and pulling youngest son, John Fell,
NOVEMBER 1951 Stevenson wrote Korea in Perspective,
the lead article in the April 1952 issue of Foreign Affairs.
Taken together with his Northwestern Founders Day
speech, this article makes up a fairly full definition of his
views on the foreign problems currently confronting any
candidate for national leadership. Appearing when it did,
Korea in Perspective added to the influences then gathering to
create the Stevenson presidential boom. However, while it
received wide attention from the serious students of inter-
national matters who compose the hulk of the magazines
limited circulation, it was not addressed to, nor read Toy, the
general public. Since the article now has a -muck wider im-
portance than it had when it was written, due to the increased
recognition of the author, it is reprinted here in full. In per-
mitting it to he reprinted, Stevenson said:
"Reprint it if you like, tut I must admit it seems to me
THE STRENGTH of America is rooted in a great principle
individuals are an end, not a means. Tliat is the American
idea. Schools, colleges, labor unions, political parties and the
Government of the United States exist for American men
^Reprinted by permission from Foreign Affairs, April, 1952.
ADLAI E. STEVENSON
and women; never the other way round. The corollary of the
idea is that every individual must take responsibility for the
whole. He must himself take responsibility for the safety
and the wise development of his country, and for the selec-
tion of policies which determine its safety and progress.
The basic requirement for the success of a democratic system
of this sort is, of course, that individuals see their country's
problems whole. In a word, they must have perspective.
This is especially true, and especially difficult to achieve,
in problems of foreign relations. "Foreign policy/' in the
year 1952, covers the globe. In no other area is it so easy
to have a picture of many single trees and no idea what
the forest looks like. But the neatest description of a tree
is not a dependable map for making one's way through a
Gaining perspective on American foreign policy begins
with gaining a view of America's position in the world
her position as a World Power. This can be indicated in half
a dozen words: American interests, power and responsibi-
lities are world-wide. Alongside this must be set two other
basic facts which are revealed in any full view of the field
of foreign policy. One is that a world-wide imperialist war
is now being carried on by the Soviet Union and its Com-
munist satellites. The other is the existence of a world-wide
organization of states "united in strength to maintain inter-
national peace and security" the United Nations. The
relationship of these three great world forces the United
States, the Soviet Union and the United Nations are
the primary elements in the American problem of foreign
There is no possibility of doubting (and no reason for
ignoring!) the fact that the Soviet objective is one world
one Communist world. Thanks to the interconnections of
Soviet imperialism and international revolutionary commun-
ism the Soviet Government is able always to pursue a dual
strategy. The strategy is implicit in Bolshevik theory. From
the day Lenin seized power in Russia and indeed even
earlier his strategy was one of "double diplomacy:" a long-
range policy, a short-range policy; a set of slogans for home
consumption, a set of slogans for foreign confusion; warfare
against the Russian people, warfare against all foreigners;
political warfare and military warfare, simultaneous or inter-
changeable. No American foreign policy which does not
allow for the over-all view of this Soviet duplicity, and which
does not have both political and military weapons to counter
it, can provide for our safety or enable us to carry out our
responsibilities. The effort to achieve the over-all view is the
basic task of Americans.
This is a campaign year in America, and we must expect
over-simplification of issues and contradictory advice regard-
ing them. Men, even responsible men, will wander far afield
in search of votes. They will capitalize every discontent,
every prejudice, every credulity, even in the deadly serious
business of foreign policy. Will we emerge from the ordeal
of the campaign more aware of the true causes of our dif-
ficulties and the magnitude of the stakes involved? Or less
aware? Will we emerge better prepared to turn with for-
titude to the work in hand? Or worse prepared? These are
the central questions which should be answered decisively
by the elections.
ADLAI E. STEVENSON
The election campaign has not begun too well in this
respect. What, for example, are we to make of the repeated
charge that the Korean was is "Truman's war/' that the
President thrust the United States into it lightly, inadvisedly
and against the best interest of the Republic, that it is a "use-
less" war, and that "we stand exactly where we stood three
years ago"? What is the purpose of the petulant animosity
shown in some quarters toward the United Nations, and
of the despairing conclusion in others that the United
Nations has "let us down" and has become more a danger
to us than a source of strength? This kind of talk is deplor-
able because it belittles the heroic sacrifices of American and
Allied soldiers and depreciates the value of an international
effort that cost us an even greater war to achieve. But it
seems to me more than deplorable. It seems to me danger-
ously misleading. What are we to think of statesmen who
don't lead, but who mislead?
The purpose of such utterances apparently is to seek to
make a single individual responsible for developments result-
ing from past actions taken by all the American people. Our
present troubles do not stem from the bad judgment or
weakness of particular individuals, any more than it would
be true to say that any one man's insight has been responsible
for our successes which have been notable. Our setbacks
and our victories are alike the products of the full sweep of
recent history; and for that we are all of us responsible.
Twice within twenty-five years this country felt compelled
to intervene in wars to redress the balance of power in the
world. At the close of World II, with Britain exhausted and
France demoralized, with German and Japanese power
crushed, the United States and the Soviet Union stood
virtually face to face, with other nations polarized around
them. Imperial Russia, historically a great expanding Power,
now heavily armed and equipped with the seductive weapon
of revolutionary communism, soon showed that she was on
the move again, seizing weaker nations here, probing there,
pressing relentlessly with propaganda and infiltration against
the free world. During the second world war, and with the
experience of the prewar period fresh in their minds, our
people concluded that isolation was no solution to the prob-
lem of security in a shrunken world. Their decision was re-
inforced by this rising spectre of another ruthless imperial
power on the march. They concluded that the time to stop
aggression, like a plague, was before it started; and that the
way to do it was by organized community action.
It is now some time since we engaged in the formidable
task of developing the community of free peoples first
through the United Nations, since the problem is inexorably
world-wide; then through the North Atlantic Treaty Or-
ganization, designed to strengthen a particularly exposed
salient the Western European "peninsula" of the vast
central "Heartland," as the great geographer Mackinder
called it; simultaneously by strengthening the important Or-
ganization of American States in our own hemisphere; and
by numerous other treaties and agencies. The American
response to the North Korean aggression, which was sup-
plied and equipped by the Soviet Union and could not have
occurred without its instigation or approval, was therefore
neither erratic nor impetuous. It was part and parcel of a
strategy of collective security which had been in the making
ADLAI E. STEVENSON
for a long time and which had been urged, welcomed and
agreed upon long since with virtual unanimity by the Amer-
When North Korean forces invaded the Republic of
Korea on June 25, 1950, with the full support of Peking and
Moscow, most of us knew what was at stake. One of the
men who took part in the long, anxious meeting at Blair
House gave the simplest explanation of the decision: "This
attack on South Korea is like Hitler's reoccupation of the
Rhineland." Historians have for years commented on the
tragic mistake of France in not ordering the instant mobili-
zation of the French Army when Hitler s troops started
marching and on the shortsightedness of the British and
others who failed to urge and support such action.
An American columnist pointed out in June 1950 that
President Truman's decision, taken with the virtually un-
animous support of the American people and their represen-
tatives in Congress, recalled the words of former Secretary
of State Henry L. Stimson following what he termed "the
tragedy of timidity'' in the Far Eastern crisis of the early
thirties: "I broke out and said," wrote Mr. Stimson, "that
I was living in a world where all my troubles came from the
same thing . . . where we are constantly shut in by the
timidity of governments . . . and I said that the time had
come when somebody has got to show some guts."
Senator Knowland, Republican, of California, a frequent
critic of Administration Far Eastern policy, was the first to
take the floor of the Senate in support of the President's
announcement: "I believe that, in this very important step
the President of the United States has taken to uphold the
hands of the United Nations and the free peoples of the
world, he should have the overwhelming support of all
Americans, regardless of their partisan affiliations/' In similar
vein the approving chorus swept the Congress and the coun-
try. One member of Congress only opposed American armed
aid to the victims of Communist aggression Representative
Marcantonio of New York, subsequently defeated for re-
To call Korea "Truman's war" distorts the entire historical
significance of our prompt response through the United
Nations to the cynical Communist challenge to the whole
concept of collective peace and security the concept which
we are pledged to defend and which only the Soviet Union
has an interest in destroying. Mr. Truman happened to be
the President of the United States when the challenge came.
Did the American people wish it to go unanswered, did they
wish all hope for the new community of nations banded to-
gether in strength to limit war to collapse? Time magazine,
with a backward glance at the equivocation of the League
of Nations, summed up the matter simply: "This time, when
the challenge came, the United States accepted it." So did
the United Nations. To call this 'Truman's war" is to deny
the manifest common approval of our prompt action.
Inevitably there are differences of opinion now about the
course of events in Korea. The decision to defeat the chal-
lenge of aggression by force brought grievous losses in blood
and treasure. The first feeling of relief which welcomed the
stern, swift action of two years ago has given way to criticism
ADLAI E. STEVENSON
and impatience. In taking stock of wKere we now stand,
however, we should not talk about our problems out of
There is nothing to be gained by what General Marshall
used to call "fighting the problem/' The problem is that the
Soviet rulers and their Communist satellites consider them-
selves at war with us, but that we are not in fact at war
with them. It is complicated by the further fact that war
in their sense is waged interchangeably by military and
political instruments. In view of this it is proper for us to
ask ourselves what would have happened if we had "fought
the problem" that is, evaded it in June 1950. What
would have happened if the United States and the United
Nations had ignored the Korean aggression?
I can venture a guess. Our friends throughout Asia and
in the Pacific would with perfect reason have doubted our
intention to resist Soviet design elsewhere in that area, and
they would of necessity have taken the path of appeasement.
Disillusionment would also have swept Western Europe at
this impressive demonstration of Soviet-satellite power and
of American indecision in the face of a direct challenge.
Then would not the Soviet Union having challenged us suc-
cessfully in Korea, have followed that challenge with an-
other? And still another? Munich would follow Munich.
Our vacillation would have paralyzed our will and worked
havoc in the community of like-minded nations. Then when
we did succeed in pulling ourselves together we would
have found it too late to organize a common front with our
friends. I think there is good reason to believe that the
resolute action by the United Nations forces in Korea not
only gained time in the East but saved NATO in the West.
The alternative was to surrender all positions of strength, to
enfeeble if not destroy the grand alliance of the free and
then, perhaps, to resort in desperation to a general war when
our moral, political and strategic position had been weakened
There is, of course, no tidy solution to the Korean prob-
lem, precisely because it is only a part of the whole Soviet
imperialist drive an episode, really, in the sweep of his-
tory which relentlessly confronts freedom with thralldom.
In a world where the objective of the Soviet Union is to
eliminate every rival center of power we must measure our
gains and our losses not in absolute terms but in relation to
the over-all situation. The Soviet rulers themselves describe
their struggle with the non-Soviet world as war. In Korea
we have made plain to the Kremlin that we are not fooled
by its use of catspaws, and that we recognize war fought
at second hand when we see it. Our object is to convince
them that other aggressions, disguised or direct, will meet
the same response, and thus deter them from a perhaps
fatal gamble. At the same time, by limiting the war in Korea,
we hope to avoid a third general holocaust. We are trying
to use force not only to frustrate our Immediate antagonists
in the hills of Korea but to preserve world peace. For that
reason the full settlement of the Korean problem is likely
to take a long time and to wait upon the settlement of many
other issues. Once again, perspective,
It is possible, of course, that we may fail in our effort
to keep the Korean fighting limited: for just as it takes only
one to start a war, so It takes only one to prolong it. The
ADLAI E. STEVENSON
aggressor is the one who decides whether or not the war
he has started can be limited. But we have diligently and
painfully sought to keep it from spreading. Given the terms
of the problem, there is no guarantee of success. It simply
seems wiser to pay large insurance premiums than to look
forward to rebuilding after the fire.
Meanwhile, some of the positive gains of our policy thus
far may properly be noted. Talk of the "uselessness" of the
Korean war gained currency only when negotiations for an
armistice dragged out, and after we had in fact accomplished
the primary objective of stopping the aggression and driving
the aggressors back from whence they came across the
38th parallel. Assured of satisfactory armistice terms, we
would have little purpose in continuing hostilities. But what
sort of logic is it to say that because the continuation of the
war does not serve our interests, the entire enterprise was
futile from the start?
And while it is too early to make any final estimate of
the Korean experience, it is also foolish and misleading to
say we "stand exactly where we stood three years ago/' The
first reason is that the Korean engagement put the Amer-
ican rearmament effort into high gear. Having virtually obli-
terated our armed strength after World War II, we were
slow to reconcile ourselves to the economic dislocation and
sacrifices needed to recreate it. Proof that the Soviet Union
would speed the advance of troops across a national frontier
dissolved our reluctance. Now our increasing strength not
only puts us in a better position to answer further military
aggression. We also are in a position to conduct a bolder
diplomacy in other words, to take the initiative politically.
Second, our leadership In fighting aggression in Korea
not only saved the moral and psychological defenses of West-
ern Europe from possible disintegration but sparked the rapid
build-up there of physical defenses. The demonstration that
there could be successful resistance to the Soviet Union
and imperial Communism gave the leaders of Europe hope
and persuaded their peoples to accept more readily the
burdens and risks of rearmament. It is routine politics for
even the timid and faint of heart among us to talk about
the necessity for American "leadership/' Had America not in
fact led, but shrunk from the challenge of Korea, would
Europe have tackled the vast, costly and painful program of
organizing Western defenses?
Third, the Soviet Union now knows that the path of con-
quest is mortally dangerous. The Korean aggression very
likely was planned as merely the first of a series of military-
actions initially by satellites, finally to be undertaken by
the Soviet Union itself. If so, the lesson of Korea may be
of historic importance. Speculation about possible adjust-
ments in the thinking of the men in the Kremlin must be
cautious. Perhaps for a time the Soviet Union will now con-
tent itself with manoeuvres in the cold war; or perhaps West-
ern strength of will is to be further tested by some other
military challenge; or perhaps Stalin and his partners will
reason that a full-scale war (which Communist theory fore-
shadows) had best be waged in the immediate future rather
than when the armament programs of the West become more
fully effective. It can be argued that Stalin, in his old age,
will never risk the loss of the empire he has built up; but
it can also be said that he may believe what Iiis sycophants
ADLAI E. STEVENSON
tirelessly chant that he is "the greatest commander of all
times and peoples"* and that if the ''terrible collisions" proph-
esied in Communist dogma are indeed to come, then they
had best come while he is still alive. We dare not tie our
policies to any one assumption regarding Soviet intentions.
Whatever those intentions are, however, the Soviet miscal-
culation in Korea will make them harder of fulfillment.
Fourth, our support of the first great collective military
effort of the United Nations to resist aggression demonstra-
ted that the organization is adaptable to the role of enforce-
ment as well as that of conciliation. In the crisis there
emerged proof of the viability of the concept of collective
security, a fact of inestimable importance for the security of
every free country including our own. Sixteen countries
contributed fighting forces. The policies of the free nations
have been concerted consistently in the votes relating to
Korea. While troops of the Republic of Korea and the
United States have been obliged to carry the main burden
of the fighting and we may properly regret the absence of
more help from others, we should not overlook the fact that
the responsibility for resistance to Communist military ag-
gression in certain other areas is borne more by others than
by ourselves. If another showdown is provoked elsewhere,
the system of collective security is in better shape now to meet
it than it was before June 1950. In short, while Korea has
not proved definitively that collective security will work, it has
prevented the Soviet Union from proving that it wont work.
And the Korean experience, moreover, has hastened the
development of the General Assembly of the United Nations
*Pravd%, November 6, 1951.
as an agency of enforcement, free from the Soviet veto.
Fifthly, we may record that the successful resistance in
Korea has contributed greatly to the successful negotiation
of a Treaty of Peace with Japan, as well as of arrangements
satisfactory to us regarding the future security of that
country. A failure on our part to give evidence of a willing-
ness to act in a time of crisis would not have encouraged
the Philippines, Australia, New Zealand and Japan to enter
into the recently negotiated network of the Pacific security
One further national advantage from this "useless" war
deserves at least to be mentioned. We have learned vital
military lessons in Korea. I am not competent to discuss im-
provements in tactics and weapons, nor would it be appro-
priate here to do so. But a more effective use of forces and
armaments as a result of long testing under actual combat
conditions is to be counted as an important residual return
on our investment in this savage conflict.
So much for this historic frustration of Communist mili-
tary conquest. Soviet policy, however, is dual. Indispensable
as was the United Nations for the repulse of the aggression
in Korea, it is needed even more in the political struggle in
which we are engaged.
Obviously the United Nations has not fulfilled all the
high hopes that some people entertained when it was
founded. The idea that it would automatically usher in an
era of sweetness and light was exaggerated at the start, as
was soon demonstrated when Soviet imperialism made plain
ADLAI E. STEVENSON
that it was determined to prevent the organization of the
world on any but its own terms. But again look at the woods,
not the trees. Although the United Nations has worked
haltingly, at times badly it has worked. Since the present
world-wide coalition of free peoples is inconceivable without
a central forum and instrument for discussion and adjust-
ment, it remains an indispensable part of our foreign policy.
The problem is to make the organization function more
perfectly. Granted that it has done little to adjust the dif-
ferences between the Soviets and the free world: so long as
the Soviet rulers prosecute their dual war against their
own people and against all outsiders there is no reason to
expect that it will. Even so, it maintains at least formal con-
tact between the two worlds. Our willingness to keep the
door open for talk and negotiation is essential evidence for
our friends (who stand more deeply in the shadow of the
Russian fist than we do) that we will accept any reasonable
opportunity to better relations and avoid all-out war.
Again, the United Nations is indispensable as an agency
for concerting policies among the free states, including (as
we found in the case of Korea) enforcement action. The
bulk of the members of the General Assembly are free na-
tions. In spite of the discouraging and frustrating debate
with the Russians or perhaps thanks in part to their
recalcitrant and dogmatic postures policies have been
developed in the General Assembly to cope better with many
of the perils to economic stability and international justice.
Obviously not all international questions need or should be
put before the United Nations; and certainly we should use
our influence to preserve a safe boundary line between
[ 17 ]
those domestic affairs which are our own concern and the
external affairs which are of concern to all. These are matters
for careful study and progress by stages. But surely to prevent
a trespass it is not sensible to shoot the watchman; nor to
burn down the bam to roast a pig.
The audible yearning to escape from it all, the murmurs
and cries of disdain for the "meddlers," the "globalists" and
the "foreigners" now sometimes heard in our midst, are
strangely familiar. Are they groans from the ghost of Amer-
ica First, still looking for an unassailable Gibraltar, safe from
assault by men or ideas? I doubt if many Americans will
be drawn into a renewal of that wishful search. I think the
eagle, not the ostrich, will continue to be the American
The reality of the matter is that American power is going
to be preponderant on our side of the Iron Curtain for many
years to come, and that without this concentration of power
there would be no possibility of pulling the free world
together or providing for an effective common defense. Our
friends abroad know this. And the reality is likewise that a
successful military defense, and a successful political ad-
vance, depend on the cooperation of a large number of gov-
ernments in the Far East and the Middle East, in Europe
and in this hemisphere. More, our ability to take the
initiative depends not simply on the cooperation of gov-
ernments, but on the good will of peoples who support these
governments. We live in a new world a world where the
stronger need the help of the weaker!
We should not be too surprised that the same nations
that formerly were alarmed at our isolationism are now con-
ADLAI E. STEVENSON
cerned about how we will use our power. Just because of
our strength we are a target for much unjust resentment.
Surely we can call upon a sufficiently long historical per-
spective, and a sufficiently intelligent understanding of
human nature, not to be too much surprised by that. Men
in lands which have recently freed themselves from old
tyrannies know all too well the temptations of power. Their
fear that we may fall into old errors is not unnatural. And
indeed, who among us would dare say that we do not have
much to learn? No single nation, viewing the world from a
particular perspective, can have a monopoly of insight. We
must take the criticisms as they come sometimes as fair
warning and redouble our efforts to develop mutual poli-
cies based on adequate understanding between sovereign but
Sovereign international authorities over a wide area, or
fully unified political councils in the whole of the free world,
are not in prospect. We must concert our policies with those
of our friends by the instruments available. Our aim should
be to improve the machinery for mutual give and take, both
in the United Nations and in regional agencies. Fortunately,
the menace of the Soviet Union tends to promote a common
view among those marked out as prey; and it can further be
said that despite differences in approach and emphasis, much
of the free world now shares a wide range of political and
economic interests which move it in the direction of unity.
The United Nations is an invaluable instrument for har-
monizing differences in those interests. It and other agencies
such as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization have given
us and our friends considerable experience in this un-
ceasing task of mutual accommodation. The United States
will find support among peoples in the free states to the
degree that they helieve that we do not simply consult our
own interests but give consideration to their interests as well
that we in truth have a "decent respect for the opinions
of mankind." Other nations have a reciprocal obligation to
give weight to our interests too. There is no doubt that our
power gives us an advantage in this process. But neither is
there room to doubt that if we wish allies who will go for-
ward with us with courage and fortitude into the risks of the
future, they must be willing and confident allies.
Let us also remember that the alternative to the United
Nations is not a vacuum. There would at once be formed
another "world organization." The Soviet Union, true to
its policy of duplicity, has this alternative organization al-
ready in hand presumably to be based on the "World
Peace Council/' formed on November 22, 1950, at the
"Second World Peace Conference" in Warsaw, Professor
Frederic Joliot (known better as Joliot-Curie through his
appropriation of a revered name on which he has no claim
of blood) presided, as "President of the Bureau," at the most
recent meeting, in Vienna last November. Various trained
seals were brought from all corners of the world. For the
gist of the program one can take almost any of the old
Marxist fighting slogans and substitute the word "peace"
for the word "revolution." In Soviet double-talk they mean
The burden of my argument, then, based on the mean-
ADLAI E. STEVENSON
ing of our experience in Korea as I see it, is that we have
made historic progress toward the establishment of a viable
system of collective security. To deprecate our large and
decisive share in that undertaking as "useless" is both mis-
chievous and regressive. It will stiffen no backs, lift no hearts
and encourage no one except our enemies.
The particulars of the forward political movement which
our successful acceptance of the Soviet challenge in Korea
has made possible for us would form the beginnings of a new
analysis, not a conclusion for this one. What is incontro-
vertible, I think, is that America needs and wants allies.
I think most Americans know this. I think we believe that
the redress in the balance of power in the world must be
completed, and quickly. I think we believe that the great
experiment in collective security on which we embarked in
1945 is still in the long run our best chance for peace. I
think we believe that international cooperation is more than
elocution. In short, I think most of us have convictions
about the position of the United States in the world today
and accept the risks and responsibilities inherent in that
position. The nature of the American decision was shown
is shown in Korea. Shall we retreat from that decision?
Shall we go it alone? Or shall we go forward with allies?
When our experience in Korea has been placed in perspec-
tive, this remains the issue behind the dust and turmoil of
this election year.
1 OVERNOR STEVENSON'S relations with Alger Hiss have
been the subject of considerable controversy. Most of this
centers around a deposition from the Governor which was
introduced as evidence into the first Hiss trial, which resulted
in a hung jury. The impression created by the Governors
political opponents has been that the deposition represented
an attempt by Stevenson to whitewash the defendant's char-
acter. The Governor and his supporters have contended that
on the contrary it merely set forth information about what
other people thought about Hiss, and that it in no way even
implied any opinion on Stevenson s part as to the defendant's
character, let alone his guilt or innocence. It is hard to ap-
praise the merits of this argument without scrutinizing the
deposition itself, which was taken in the Governors office
in Springfield and reads as follows:
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK
United States of America
Deposition of Honorable Adlai Stevenson, Governor of
the State of Illinois, before William B. Chittenden, United
ADLAI E. STEVENSON
States Commissioner in and for the Southern District of
Illinois, taken at Springfield, Illinois, on June 2, 1949.
William B. Chittenden, United States Commissioner, Springfield,
HON. ADLAI STEVENSON, Governor of the State of Illinois
Harry L, Livingstone, Reporter.
MR. CHITTENDEN: Governor Stevenson, the purpose of
this hearing is to take your deposition on written direct
interrogatories in behalf of the Defendant Alger Hiss in a
case entitled United States of America against Alger Hiss,
Defendant, now pending in the United States District Court
for the Southern District of New York, and upon written
cross-interrogatories in behalf of the United States of Amer-
ica, the complainant in said cause; pursuant to an order of
the United States District Court for the Southern District
of New York, entered on May 24, 1949, a certified copy of
which order I now exhibit to you.
Will you please therefore stand, raise your right hand,
and be sworn.
"Do you, Adlai E. Stevenson, also known as Adlai Ewing
Stevenson, solemnly swear that the testimony which you are
about to give upon written direct and cross interrogatories
in the above mentioned case of United States v. Alger Hiss,
Defendant, will be the truth, the whole truth and nothing
but the truth, so help you God?"
GOVERNOR STEVENSON: I do.
DIRECT INTERROGATORIES IN BEHALF
OF DEFENDANT ALGER HISS
Q. No. I . State your name and address.
A. No. 1. Adlai E. Stevenson, Executive Mansion,
Q. No. 2. What is your official position at the present
A. No. 2. Governor of Illinois.
Q. No. 3. State the official positions which you have held
in the past.
A. No. 3. I was special counsel to the Agricultural
Adjustment Administration, Washington, June, 1933 to Jan-
uary, 1934. I was assistant general counsel of the Federal
Alcohol Control Administration, Washington, January, 1934
to September, 1934. I was special assistant to the Secretary
of the Navy, Washington, from July, 1941 to June, 1944.
I was special assistant to the Secretary of State from February,
1945 to August, 1945. I was United States Minister in
London, September, 1945 to March, 1946. I was United
States representative to the Preparatory Commission of the
United Nations, London, September, 1945 to January, 1946.
I was senior adviser to the United States Delegation to the
General Assembly of the United Nations, first session, Lon-
don, January-February, 1946. I was alternate United States
Delegate to the General Assembly of the United Nations,
New York, September, 1946 to November, 1946. I was
alternate United States Delegate to the General Assembly of
the United Nations, New York, September, 1947 to Nov-
ember, 1947. 1 think that is all.
ADLAI E. STEVENSON
Q. No. 4. How long have you known Mr. Alger Hiss,
A. No. 4. Since June or July, 1933.
). No. 5. Where, when and under what circumstances
did you first become acquainted with him?
A. No. 5. We served together in the Legal Division of
the Agricultural Adjustment Administration in Washington
Q. No. 6. State the nature and extent of your association
with him from that time until the present.
A. No. 6. In the Agricultural Adjustment Administra-
tion in 1933 we were working on different commodities.
Our contact was frequent but not close nor daily. I had no
further contact with him until I met him again in the State
Department when I went to work there in 1945. Upon my
arrival in the State Department at the end of February or
early March to the end of April, when Mr, Hiss left for the
San Francisco conference, he was, I think, largely preoccu-
pied with the arrangements for that conference, for the
United Nations conference on international organization at
San Francisco. During that interval, from the first of March
to the end of April, I was engaged in other matters and met
him mostly in intra-departmental meetings and in connection
with some aspects of the plan for the San Francisco confer-
ence, largely relating to matters pertaining to the handling
of the press at the conference. I was at the conference, myself,
as assistant to the Secretary of State from about the 10th of
May until the end of June. During that interval Mr. Hiss
was Secretary General of the conference and I was attached
to the United States Delegation. Our paths did not cross in
a business way but we met occasionally at official social
Back in Washington during July, I had some conferences
with him in connection with preparations for the presentation
of the United Nations charter to the Senate for ratification.
I resigned from the Department early in August, 1945,
and so far as I recall I did not meet Mr. Hiss personally again
until he came to London in January, 1946, with the United
States Delegation to the First General Assembly of the United
Nations. During that conference in January and February
we had offices nearby each other and met frequently at dele-
gation meetings and staff conferences.
I returned to the United States in March, 1946 and I do
not believe I met Mr. Hiss again until the United Nations
General Assembly in New York in 1947. At that time he was
connected with the Carnegie Endowment for International
Peace and I visited with him on one or two occasions at my
office in the United States Delegation Headquarters in con-
nection with the budget for the United Nations, which was
one of my responsibilities as a member of the American
Delegation. I have not seen him since.
Q. No. 7. Have you known other persons who have
known Mr. Alger Hiss?
A. No. 7. Yes.
Q. No. 8. From the speech of those persons, can you
state what the reputation of Alger Hiss is for integrity,
loyalty and veracity?
A. No. 8. Yes.
Q. No. 9. (a) Specify whether his reputation for integ-
rity is good or had?
[ 179 1
ADLAI E. STEVENSON
A. No. 9. (a) Good.
Q. No. 9. (b) Specify whether his reputation for loy-
alty is good or had?
A. No. 9, (b) Good.
Q. No. 9. (c) Specify whether his reputation for vera-
city is good or had?
A. No. 9. (c) Good.
CROSS INTERROGATORIES IN BEHALF OF
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
COMPLAINANT IN SAID CAUSE
Q. No. 1 . Were you ever a guest in the home of defen-
dant Alger Hiss at any time in 1935, to and including 1938?
A. No. 1. No, I have never been a guest in Mr. Hiss*
Q. No. 3.* Did you, prior to 1948, hear that the defendant
Alger Hiss during the years 1937 and 1938 removed con-
fidential and secret documents from the State Department
and made such documents available to persons not authorized,
to see or receive them?
A. No. 3, No.
Q. No. 4. Did you, prior to 1948, hear reports that the
defendant Alger Hiss was a Communist?
A. No. 4. No.
Q. No. 5. Did you, prior to 1948, hear reports that the
defendant Alger Hiss was a Communist sympathizer?
* There is no Question No, 2 owing to an error in counting made by the
A. No. 5. No.
Q. No. 6. State whether or not you ever attended Har-
vard College or Harvard Law School?
A. No. 6. Harvard Law School, September, 1922 to
Q. No. 7. State whether or not you ever attended Prince-
A. No. 7. Yes, September, 1918 to June, 1922
I, Adlai E. Stevenson, do hereby certify that the foregoing
questions were put to me by William B. Chittenden, United
States Commissioner for the Southern District of Illinois,
and the foregoing answers were made by me; that my testi-
mony, after being fully transcribed, was submitted to me for
examination, and has been read by me and such changes
therein as I have desired have been entered upon the said
deposition by the said William B. Chittenden, with a state-
ment of the reasons given by me for making the same; in
witness whereof, I hereunto subscribe my name this 2nd day
of June, 1949.
Stevenson was recently asked how well he had in fact
known Hiss and how the matter of the deposition had come
up. Stevenson said:
To answer the second question first, it came up because,
when I was asked by Hiss's lawyers to testify as to Hiss's
reputation, I agreed to answer any questions as best I could
but declined to go to New York. It seems to me that it will
be a very sad day for Anglo Saxon justice when any man, and
.especially a lawyer, will refuse to give honest evidence in a
criminal trial for fear the defendant in an action may eventu-
ADLAI E. STEVENSON
ally be found guilty. What would happen to our whole sys-
tem of law if such timidity prevailed? I feel very strongly that
it is one of the hasic responsibilities of any citizen, and most
especially of lawyers, to testify to the best of their ability on
any case in which they may have evidence that either side
considers relevant. As to the value of their testimony, that is
for the jury to decide.
In this Hiss case, I just can't imagine what people would
have expected me to do. Was I supposed to say that I didn't
know Hiss, when I most certainly did know him? Was I
supposed to say that his reputation was bad? Obviously it
was good, or he wouldn't have held the exalted public posi-
tion he was in when I met him in the State Department in
1945. Nor would he have been selected as President of the
Carnegie Endowment by some of the most conservative and
respected businessmen in the country. The only basis I can
see for finding fault with my deposition would be on the
assumption that I lied because I was supposed to have some
confidential information about his activities eight or ten years
before. I had not seen or. even heard of him from 1933 to
1945 and when I did meet him again I never heard even a
syllable of suspicion about him. I must admit, this talk about
that deposition irks me a good deal. If I were asked to answer
the same questions tomorrow, in all honesty I would have to
give exactly the same answers; and also I would have just
as little cause to quarrel with the final verdict of the court.
It was suggested that possibly some of the confusion
caused by the deposition arose because Hiss had based his
defense upon the premise that his reputation was so good
that it placed him above suspicion; and that this misuse of
reputation hy the defendant unavoidably cast doubt upon
the motives of witnesses who testified to its excellence. The
Governor considered this possibility and said:
Well, there may be something to that; it might explain
part of the reaction to what I said. Now, you ask me how well
I knew Hiss, and I'll tell you. I met him first when I went
to Washington in 1933 hut I saw very little of him in the
AAA. We were working on different things. I spent most of
my time in California and out of town working on marketing
agreements for special crops, fruit and so forth. I don't re-
member even seeing him again until 1945 when I went to
work in the State Department a month or so before the San
Francisco conference. He came up to me one day and said:
"I'm Alger Hiss. We used to work together in the AAA."
I remember feeling surprised, that he remembered me.
I saw very little of him in San Francisco; I was up at the
Fairmount Hotel at our delegation office most of the time and
he was down town at the headquarters of the international
secretariat of which he was the chief. Back in Washington
in July we conferred occasionally about the Senate hearings
on ratification of the charter. But I left very soon to return to
Chicago. I saw quite a lot of him the next winter in London
during the six weeks of the assembly meeting and met him
again a few times in New York in 1947, when he was Presi-
dent of the Carnegie Foundation. I never did know him well;
I never went to his house; I never met his wife. If I had been
asked about his character, my opinion would have been
superficial. But that wasn't what was asked. I ran into many
ADLAI E. STEVENSON
people who knew him well and had worked with him exten-
sively; I was asked what they thought o him. I told the
truth about that to the best of my ability because they all
seemed to regard him very highly.
URING THE PEAK of the Stevenson presidential boom,
"I have teen asked more questions than the Quiz kids and
Mr. Anthony put together."
Herewith some of the questions the Governor has heen
asked along with his answers:
From U. S. News and World Report*
Q. You have said publicly, Governor, that you were not
a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination. Is
this a firm decision on your part?
A. It most assuredly is. On January 5th last, after the most
prolonged and earnest consideration, I announced that I was
a candidate for re-election as Governor of Illinois. That is
what I have been ever since that announcement, and what
I am now. I do not see how it is possible to be a candidate
for two different offices at the same time. I am not that, nor
will I ever be. . . .
Q. What is your principal reason for not wishing to he a
candidate for the presidential nomination?
^Reprinted from U. S. News & World Report, an independent weekly news
magazine published at Washington, D.C. Copyright 1952 United States
ADLAI E. STEVENSON
A. I believe I have indicated it already in my first answer.
If I had wanted to be a candidate for the nomination as
President, I would not have announced my candidacy for
renomination as Governor. I do not believe that it is either
morally or practically possible to be a simultaneous candidate
There are, of course, other considerations which only
serve to buttress this conclusion. I have been a resident of
Illinois all my life, and my family roots here go back over a
hundred years. I am genuinely interested in what happens
in and to the State of Illinois. I have become deeply
engrossed in my work as Governor, and I have invested in
it all of my time and energy for over three years. I sincerely
believe that the full fruits of that investment, in terms of
better government in Illinois, are still to be gathered, and
I would like to have a hand in that harvest.
I, and the many fine people whom I have induced to help
me in this job, have a lot of unfinished business. For me that
is a more than adequate reason for not aspiring to any other
office, however exalted.
Q. But since you want to be the Democratic candidate for
Governor this year, is it not essential to your party's success
in Illinois that there loe a strong national ticket?
A. I have no crystal ball to tell me at this time who will
head the Democratic party's national ticket, but I am con-
fident that that ticket will be a strong one. I have the same
confidence that we are going to win in Illinois because I
think that the majority of our citizens like what we have been
trying to do since 1949.
I do not underestimate the effect of a national campaign
on the election of State officers, but neither do I underesti-
mate the large and increasing capacity of the voters to disen-
tangle State from national issues and to mark their ballots
accordingly. Most of the issues relating to the conduct of the
business of the State of Illinois bear no relation to the issues
which divide the parties nationally and I expect that most
people will vote for or against me on the basis of the former.
Q. In order to get a strong national ticket^ isn't it important
also to have a strong national platform, one that will attract
a majority of the voters of your state?
A. The strength of the Democratic party nationally for
the past several years has not, in my opinion, been due just
to strong personalities on the national ticket. It has been due
in a very substantial degree to the strength of the principles
which the party has offered to the nation in its platform. I
do not think that 1952 is going to be different from any of
these preceding campaign years, and I am sure that both
platform and ticket will be strong.
Q. What do you think are the essential points that ought
to he stressed hy the Democratic party in connection with
A. The basic point, it seems to me, is that the hard fact
of Soviet Communist imperialism presents a real danger to
the free world now and for an indeterminate period to come.
From this one fact flow many difficulties which we must face
with understanding and stout hearts. The Democratic Party
should continue to stress in the future, as it has in the past,
the necessity for mobilizing our strength, both military and
economic in support of the free nations of the world; the
importance of continued working toward the international
ADLAI E. STEVENSON
organization and maintenance of peace through the United
Nations; the value of regional organizations of strength, such
as NATO, the Latin-American Defense Treaty, and our
new treaty arrangements in the Pacific; and the stepping up
of the kind of technical help provided under the Point Four
I think that the Democratic party would he well advised
to increase the emphasis on this last point and the whole
approach which it represents. We cannot buy peace with
dollars alone, if for no other reason than we do not have
enough dollars; but we can preserve, and indeed enlarge
the friendly area by lending the aid of our vast technological
knowledge to millions of desperately poor people, who can
only find their way to free political institutions through
betterment in their material conditions.
). What is your opinion as to the feeling of the country
to Republican policy on international affairs?
A. I do not believe that your question can be fairly
answered without some specification as to which Republican
policy on international affairs you are referring to. I am sure
that many Republicans, and many Republican candidates,
approve an international policy not essentially dissimilar to
the Democratic policy of assistance to our friends and resist-
ance to our foes. Indeed, most, if not all, of the points in that
policy were originally constructed with Republican help.
There are, of course, Republicans who appear to have quite
a different policy on international affairs and, relating your
question to them, I happen to think that the majority feeling
of the country is against them.
). What do you think would he the impression outside
of the United States if a Republican, for example, like Taft
A. If Senator Taft were to be nominated, I think that
there would inevitably be grave apprehension In many re-
sponsible quarters of the free world over the possibility of
his election. His voting record with respect to the organiza-
tion of the strength of the free world could have no other
result. I would like to make clear, however, that I do not
believe American elections should be determined by opinion
outside of the United States. It is enough for me that Senator
Taft's voting record on international matters is fraught with
what, I regard as grave peril to the future of the United
States itself, and I would not expect that the American voter
would be swayed by any other than this legitimate concern.
Q. What do you think would he the impression if a
Republican like Eisenhower were nominated?
A. I do not see how General Eisenhower's nomination
could be anything other than reassuring in foreign quarters,
at least in the key area of Western Europe. The General's
patently genuine devotion to the principle of building up
the strength of Western Europe to resist aggression and his
services in the pursuit of that objective have won him the
good will of everybody in Europe, except perhaps the Com-
). What do you think is the difference hetween the
foreign policy that the Democratic Party will champion and
the foreign policy that will probably come out of the Repub-
A. I do not think it possible to say at this time what foreign
policy will be embodied in the Republican platform. That
ADLAI E. STEVENSON
depends too muck on the present struggle which is going on
within the party. Contrarily, no matter who the Democratic
nominee is, it seems clear that the party platform will cham-
pion the things to which I have already referred. I would
hope, of course, that the Republican platform would bear a
reasonably close resemblance to it because I believe in the
bipartisan approach to foreign policy, especially in these
Q. Do you think that the Democratic Party will by its
platform approve everything that has been done by the
Truman Administration in foreign policy?
A. I should expect that the Democratic platform will re-
affirm every basic position on foreign policy taken by the
Truman Administration. Again, there may be room for vari-
ance as to detail, but, inasmuch as party platforms of necessity
can deal only with basic principles, I do not anticipate that
the platform will fail in any respect to approve these major
Q, Do you think that there have been some mistakes
made in the Administrations foreign policy? Would you
favor acknowledging them?
A. I always favor acknowledging mistakes when it has
become clear that they have been made, and this applies to
foreign policy as to everything else. This is the principle on
which my administration has been conducted in Illinois, and
I think that it has been popular. Certainly it is right.
To the extent that there have been mistakes in the Admin-
istration's foreign policy, I think they are in substantial part
a result of our own zeal to build a peaceful world founded
upon international trust and good will. We tried, perhaps
[ 190 ]
too hard, at the close of the war and shortly thereafter, to
work together in mutual amity with all of our major allies
in World War II. We leaned over backwards to demonstrate
our desire to secure the peace of the world through inter-
Take our withdrawal from Korea, for example. We made
a bargain which we carried out and which we expected
Russia to carry out. Had there been good faith on both sides
instead of only on one, that withdrawal presumably would
not have been what it now appears to be, namely, a "mistake
in the Administration's foreign policy." I also recall that it
was a "mistake" which was popular throughout the length
and breadth of the country at a time when all of us wanted
to get the boys home from abroad and to rid ourselves as fast
as possible of our military preoccupations after four years
Q. Do you think that some of these mistakes were due to
developments or circumstances beyond the control of anybody
in this country?
A. As I have just indicated, I think that our "mistakes"
are due to our hope that Russia would prove sincere about
peace and international live and let live. That she has not
been is the great and abiding misfortune of the world.
Q. Do you feel that the American Government should he
committed against admission of Red China into the United
A. I am opposed to the admission of Red China into the
United Nations. I do not see why this Government should
enlarge the sphere of operation of any other government
which has waged, and is waging, war against it and against
ADLAI E. STEVENSON
the United Nations in defiance of all that the United Nations
stands for. Since that is an amply sufficient reason for oppos-
ing the admission of Red China, I regard it as a waste of time
to speculate about a lot of hypothetical contingencies.
Q. Do you think, if the Korean problem is not solved by
the time the campaign ends, that public opinion would sanc-
tion stronger measures, especially in the event a truce were
A. I hope that public opinion, without reference to the
period of the campaign or any other event, will continue to
maintain the resolute patience and wisdom about the Korean
problem which it has exhibited in the main thus far. The
prolonged truce negotiations in Korea, and the stalling and
double-dealing which have characterized the Communist
participation in them, surely is one of the most exasperating
experiences to which the American public has ever been
It is always necessary to keep clear, however, what our
objectives are in the Korean intervention and not to be
stampeded into a new set of objectives which might well
mean heavier involvement in war in the Far East. I think
that the Communist tactics in Korea have been designed to
bring about just such a shift. Fortunately, we have not fallen
as yet into that trap, and I hope and pray that we never
will. . . .
jQ. Do you favor the maintenance of large American
forces in Europe indefinitely, or do you think there should
be a program of gradual withdrawal?
A. I believe in the maintenance in Europe of American
forces for the period of time required to assure the protection
of Europe. I recognize that the size of our forces there must
always be limited by what is possible for us to do. The
necessity of a large and increasing participation by the Euro-
pean countries themselves in this effort is manifest. I see no
reason why, if the nations of Western Europe can attain a
sufficient degree of economic strength and stability, they
should not ultimately provide all the ground forces necessary
for their security. To say now just when and how American
ground forces are to be withdrawn would seem to me both
impossible and unwise.
Q. How far should American man power be used in Asia
A. As I have just said, I believe in using American man
power in both Europe and Asia, within the limits of our
capacity to do so, to the extent required to blunt the drives
of Soviet imperialism. I reaffirm my conviction that, if we can
create sufficient economic strength in both Asia and Europe,
we can progressively reduce our man-power commitments
in those areas. I can envision little but disaster, however, in
committing American man power to hostilities in the morass
of the China mainland.
Q. Do you believe that all international action ley the
United States should be governed by regional pacts like the
North Atlantic Treaty and the Pacific Pact, or do you think
there are circumstances in which the United States may have
to go it alone?
A. The regional pacts are certainly most hopeful instru-
ments of policy and action for the future. They have the
advantage of pooling material strength and clarifying com-
mon ideals. It is conceivable, of course, that there may arise
ADLAI E. STEVENSON
peculiar circumstances in which the United States will find
itself confronted with a problem in an area where no regional
pact exists. Without being able to anticipate the exact out-
lines of such a problem, I would say that I would not as a
matter of principle require allies in every case as a condition
precedent to action by this country. The defense of freedom
can often be a lonely job, but it is not one which is to be
evaded for that reason. I recall one nation, led by one mag-
nificent individual, which was not afraid to stand up to
aggression alone in recent time; and a great part of the globe,
including ourselves, will be forever in their debt.
). Would the Democratic party in your judgement lye well
advised to adopt a civil-rights 'program with a compulsory
Fair Employment Practices Commission?
A. I think that I can discuss the question of FEPC in the
most meaningful terms if I relate it closely to my experience
in Illinois. I have twice proposed to the Illinois Legislature
the enactment of a fair-employment-practices law which
contained machinery for petitioning for court enforcement of
the commission's orders. We have accomplished a great deal
toward the elimination of employment discrimination in
Illinois recently through voluntary methods. But it seems to
me that what we still need to assure to everyone in the state
his fundamental right to earn his living free from the handi-
cap of racial or religious discrimination is a Fair Employment
Practices Commission with power to investigate complaints,
to promote educational programs, to conciliate conflicts
whereever possible, and, where efforts at voluntary adjust-
ment fail, to seek the intervention of the judicial power in
Now, what is good for Illinois may not, perhaps, be good
for every other State; and this is the principal reason why I
have hoped that the States individually would seek their own
solutions of this like many other problems. There may be
significant variances in conditions from state to state which
warrant different approaches, and I have always believed
that the states should be encouraged to function as experi-
mental laboratories working for the best solutions of common
problems. However, I regard the right to earn one's living
free from discrimination founded on race, color and religion
as so fundamental a part of the heritage of all our citizens
that the failure of the States to solve the problem clearly
warrants a federal approach.
As to the Democratic party program, I think the party
cannot retreat from the platform plank adopted at the 1948
Q. What is your opinion of the so-called voluntary or
educational plan to bring about the end of race discrimina-
tion in the economic -field?
A. We should never become so preoccupied with the issue
of compulsory powers for fair-employment commissions that
we neglect continuous and persistent effort to eliminate
racial discrimination on a voluntary basis. The voluntary way
is always the best and cheapest way if it works. I certainly do
not regard the two approaches as conflicting. They are and
should always be complementary and coexistent. Indeed, in
Illinois I think it fair to say that the mere presence on the
legislative horizon of a Fair Employment Practices Commis-
sion has accelerated the tempo of the voluntary approach.
In my state, the Illinois State Chamber of Commerce,
ADLAI E. STEVENSON
which has steadfastly opposed my FEPC bills, has been
doing a conscientious, intelligent and effective job in the
educational field. Should my bill ever pass, I would hope and
expect that that effort would still go on. The state would
then be free to deal with the small percentage of inevitable
chiselers who are not amenable to these voluntary efforts,
and the great and overwhelming percentage of decent em-
ployers would continue to react affirmatively, as they have
heretofore, to the educational approach.
Q. Have you had any exyrience with state problems in
connection with race segregation? How have you handled
A. We have had in Illinois during the last three years a
few incidents created by the segregation problem. The most
notorious, of course, was the so-called Cicero riot, which was
set off by the effort of a colored family to move into an apart-
ment house in a suburb of Chicago. The failure of the local
law-enforcement officials to control that situation properly
in time resulted in an ugly manifestation of violence which
prompted me to send in the National Guard to restore order.
I have always felt that the overriding issue, at least for
me as Governor, in any incident of this kind is the simple
one of insistence upon observance of law and order. I will
not countenance rioting, the destruction of property, and the
rough handling of individuals, no matter what the cause and
no matter what the character of the passions aroused. In this
view, disorders provoked by racial troubles are % no different
from disorders provoked by any other cause.
I have observed the same principle in some of the rest-
lessness occasioned by the breaking down of segregation in
our public schools and, by and large, we have made en-
couraging progress in this area with a minimum of difficulty.
This is not to say that we are out of the woods yet, or that
the job is finished and, indeed, only a few weeks ago we
had a discouraging setback in Cairo, 111. However, the
force of the state power was again thrown behind the basic
principle I have mentioned, and I think that we are again
pointed in the right direction.
Q. Are you in favor of a repeal of the Toft-Hartley Act
or do you think that the Democratic platform should favor
modifications in the Act?
A. I am this much of an expert on the Taft-Hartley law:
I know that any one who says flatly that he is either for or
against that law is indulging our common weakness for over-
simplification. The law comprises over 100 sections, and it
deals with a vast and varying range of matters affecting
labor relations. If those issues are considered one by one,
as they must be, I do not believe that there is any single
representative group of people who will be unanimous in
their views on all.
That is certainly the way I feel about it. Some features
of the law seem to me to advance the cause of good labor
relations, and other features, in my opinion, do not. I could
not conscientiously subscribe to any position with respect
to the Taft-Hartley law which does not take account of its
great variety, and I happen to think that most of the people
of the country, including the unions, have come to realize
that the Taft-Hartley law cannot be dealt with in such
simple and absolute terms. Obviously you do not have the
space for me to get into an extended discussion of these
ADLAI E. STEVENSON
multiple issues. I think the Democratic platform should
Q. How far should government go in what is often
called intervention in the economic life of the country?
A. No farther than is absolutely required ty the necessi-
ties of the particular case. And such intervention as does
occur should be primarily addressed to the maintenance and
enforcement of competition in our economic life, not its
Q. Do you feel that the intervention should he confined
primarily to emergencies, or do you think that there are
certain areas of action which are now tf affected with a public
A. That question does not mean much to me apart from
specific cases. For example, I suppose that regulation of the
rates and services of public utilities could be taken as an
example of intervention by government in economic affairs.
But those businesses have, for many years, been accepted as
'affected with a public interest" in both legal and practical
terms, and I believe in sound and strong public regulation
of them. Government ownership and operation of public-
utility properties is, however, another instance of what might
be comprehended within the concept of government inter-
vention in economic life. I certainly would hope that inter-
vention of this latter kind would be confined strictly to those
cases where there is a need which is not and cannot be met
by private capital.
I do not believe that government, whether federal, state
or local, should take on any job which it is not absolutely
required to do by the facts of the case. I have said repeatedly
that I believe in government being as small in scope and as
local in character as possible: and certainly that objective
cannot be achieved were government is steadily enlarging
its business ownership and management commitments.
Q. What is your opinion about the farm program of the
Administration? Should it he modified, or do you think the
platform should advocate its continuance?
A. If one of the principal objectives of a farm program
is to assure to the farmers themselves a fair and reasonable
measure of prosperity, then the present program must be
working all right because, at least in my section of the coun-
try, the farmers generally seem to be in good shape. Any
Government subsidy program should be constantly re-
evaluated to determine if it serves the purpose for which it
was intended and whether the need continues to exist.
The kind of farm problems with which I've been con-
cerned for the last three years have to do with such purely
local matters as the improvement of rural roads, enhancing
the marketability of Illinois farm products, and putting on
our big annual farm show the state fair at a reduced
cost to the taxpayers. These state government agricultural
problems, though important and intricate and demanding in
themselves, are far off the main channel of the federal farm
program. I have not neglected them to spend my time think-
ing about possible improvements in federal programs.
Q. Do you think that there is a considerable area in which
federal expenses can he cut without endangering our military
A. No one can say whether budgets can be wisely cut with-
out digging into them. I have not done this on the federal
ADLAI E. STEVENSON
budget, and therefore I cannot speak with the authority
which attaches to the words of my friend, Paul Douglas,
who has done so. Perhaps I can best answer your question
by saying that it has been my lot as Governor of Illinois to
prepare and submit to the Legislature two executive budgets.
The one I submitted in 1951, after the outbreak of the
Korean War, was smaller than the one I submitted in 1949,
a few months after I was first inaugurated.
I like to think that I was able to accomplish this, despite
the inflationary trend, simply because in the interval I had
learned much more about the intricacies of State govern-
ment and scrutinized very closely the budget requests of the
agencies under me. Anyway, that has made me believe,
rightly or wrongly, that there is always fat to be found in
governmental budgets, as in business or personal budgets,
if one only has the time and energy to find it and the guts
to eliminate it. Maybe I can answer your question even
better by saying that I believe the State of Illinois would
still be functioning if my second budget had been even
Q. Do you think that the expenditures on new proposals
for social welfare should loe eliminated entirely in a national
A. No. I think that proposals in this field should be
much more carefully tested in an emergency period, to
make sure that we are devoting our limited resources to
matters of the highest priority. But I do not believe that it
is possible flatly to say that all progress in social improve-
ment must of necessity come to a complete halt.
We should never advance faster than our means permit,
[ 200 ]
and therefore a national emergency may slow the rate of ad-
vance. I assume, however, that the national emergency you
are speaking of is the one created by a Communist govern-
ment, with its spurious claims to social betterment. One
way that kind of an emergency can be diminished is to
expose these claims to our potential friends abroad by demon-
strating the large stake which all persons have in our
democratic, free-enterprises way of life.
Q. Have you ever expressed yourself on compulsory health
insurance? What is your view?
A. This is a problem about which my information is
limited to that of any casual newspaper reader. It seems,
unfortunately, to be a controversy which has generated more
heat than light. For that reason, I think we have reached
a stage requiring more factual inquiry and less expression
of opinion. Thas it why I was very much pleased to see the
President create an expert commission on our medical needs
and why I am encouraged to read that this commission has
already begun to hold hearings at which facts are being
carefully collected and all points of view heard. I, for one,
would be willing to suppress any urge I had to rush into
this controversy until after we have had the* benefit of the
report of this commission.
I am perfectly prepared to say, however, that, whatever
the best solution may prove to be, it is clear that the pro-
vision of adequate medical treatment for all our citizens is
a critically pressing problem. It is so big, indeed, that its
solution will probably have to be reached on a tentative
and experimental basis, with the observance of some order
of priorities which take into account both the needs and our
ADLAI E. STEVENSON
capacities, financial and otherwise, to meet them.
I have, in this regard, been quite impressed by the sug-
gestion that the most pressing problem is the protection of
the average family from the illnesses of a catastrophic nature
which mean utter financial ruin. If the insurance principle
could be brought to bear on these catastrophic illnesses, it
would largely eliminate the specter of terror from the
average home, but still leave us financially undamaged and
As in most cases, free and easy use of slogans does not
seem to me to advance the argument very far in this area.
I am against the socialization of the practice of medicine as
much as I would be against the socialization of my own
profession, the law. Although the provision of adequate
legal services to all of our people is by no means a problem,
of the magnitude of that involved in medical services most
lawyers have tried to work toward that goal in the same
way that most doctors have done in their field.
I am sure that in both the common objective can largely
be realized without the destruction of professional indepen-
dence, if only we focus on the problems our great good will
and good judgment. One thing is as clear as can be, and that
is that this matter is much too important to be allowed to
bog down in a welter of misunderstanding and partisan
Q. Do you think the Democratic platform should come
out in favor of it?
A. In the state of affairs which I have referred to in the
answer I have just given you I do not think that the Demo-
cratic platform should commit itself to any specific proposal.
[ 202 ]
I think it should continue its endorsement of the general
objective of working toward improvement of the health of
X What do you think are going to be the principal
issues of the campaign on the domestic side?
A. I think that the domestic issues of the greatest im-
portance to our country and to each of us as individuals are
inflation and national solvency. Each housewife in the
grocery store is as painfully conscious of prices as the most
learned economists and the most experienced financial men.
Closely related is federal spending, increasing federal debt
and higher taxes. Can these trends be reversed?
A third issue will be widespread disappointment with
the revelations of abuse of public trust, and whether it is
necessary to turn the national Administration over to an-
other political party in order to deal adequately with this
Q. What do you think are going to })& the principal issues
of the campaign on the foreign-policy side?
A. There is really only one issue here, and that is whether
we continue to counter the threat of Soviet imperialism,
by marshaling the resources of the free world. There are, of
course, many subsidiary issues growing out of this major
one. Few among us, I believe, are really blind to the dangers,
and the great debate really revolves around means rather
than ends. But means are crucial, and a wrong or impetuous
choice can result in disaster. The campaign will be helpful
if the foreign policy debate can be carried on honestly and
informatively and without exploitation of ignorance and
ADLAI E. STEVENSON
Q. If you had to pick out the biggest single issue of the
day, what issue would you choose?
A. Foreign policy, in my opinion. I would view with
the utmost misgiving any indication that America was
wobbling or indecisive. The continuity of our general post-
war policy of resistance to Soviet pressure is the best and
only hope of national security and peace.
Inflation and the difficult price, wage and other economic
problems which confronts us are all a consequence of our
huge effort to redress the balance of power in the world and
meet the biggest issue which any individual or any nation
can face, the loss of freedom.
Q, How do you think the corruption issue can he an-
swered from the Democratic side?
A. I think the corruption issue has already been largely
answered from the Democratic side. The most shocking
revelations centered around the Bureau of Internal Revenue.
Those exposures were largely the work of a congressional
committee headed by a Democratic Representative, Cecil
King. It was President Truman who responded promptly
with the reorganization plan to take the Bureau of Internal
Revenue permanently out of politics, and it was the Dem-
ocrats in Congress who showed the greatest unity in sup-
porting this proposal against bitter opposition.
I should be the last to pretend that the Democrats in 1952
do not have a heavy load to carry on this issue. But the
man in the street knows that no one has a monoply of virtue,
least of all a political party. We have learned over the years
that honesty in public office cannot be measured by party
labels. And we learned in 1923 and 1924 that a political
[ 204 1
Stevenson and his sons, left to right, Adlai Ewing III, John Fell and I
Borden, celebrate Christmas, 1950, in Springfield. Adlai is a senior, |
Borden a freshman, at Harvard. John Fell goes to Milton Academy. The :
Stevenson boys spend half of their vacations with Mrs, Stevenson who !
lives in Chicago. \
United Press Photo
''Artie" (King Arthur), Stevenson's melancholy Dalmatian, often accom-
panies him on short walk between Springfield Executive Mansion, where
Stevenson has offices in basement, to State House (above) where he has
another on second floor. Statue at right is of Abraham Lincoln.
Rugged routine as Governor includes toasting "Dairy Dream Girl" Irene
Bittner in buttermilk (upper left); presenting prize to "Fairy Dancer"
Sandra Cheryl Stilwell (upper right); riding in tally-ho with Veep and
Mrs. Barkley, Senator and Mrs. Scott Lucas and Mrs. Ives (below) at
Illinois State Fair of 1950. Stevenson thrives on such activities.
Stevenson, at head of table in Executive Mansion office, holds weekly
Thursday morning conference with administrative staff. Staff members,
left to right, are Carl McGowan, William McCormick Blair, Lawrence
Irvin, J. Edward Day, Richard J. Nelson, William I. Flanagan, Don
Hyndman. Stevenson's entourage is patterned on that of New York's
Governor Tom Dewey, whose administrative efficiency Stevenson ad-
mires. Governor and one or more of aides often lunch at conference
This Memorial W rea th
Commemorates the fOOfh
Birthday Celebration of
JOHH PETER WGELD
Governor accepts birthday wreath in
honor of his predecessor, Governor
John Peter Altgeld. Altgeld was
celebrated as the "Eagle Forgotten"
in poem by the late poet Vachel
Lindsay whose house is across the
street from Executive Mansion.
Stevenson, who wears horn-rimmed glasses for reading, dictates to his
secretary, Miss Carol Evans. Paperweights are golden spike souvenirs.
Governor prefers to be photographed from his left.
Right, Stevenson keeps late
hours in Executive Man-
sion, of which he is often
the sole occupant. Below,
Second Man Robert Jones
brings Stevenson lunch tray
to his office desk. Governor
is partial to tomato juice,
tomato salad, tomato catsup,
tomato highballs and just
plain tomatoes, along with
other rabbit food.
Courtesy Life, Time, Inc.
United Press Photo
United Press Photo
With son John Fell, Stevenson rides tractor at Libertyville farm, now
rented to Marshall Field Jr.
it i^M **> fr
^*^ M ^
\ |M , M^, ^^^^ f^f^f^.
*NU ^ ,,
, ' ,,'*'-..".' ".,: /,',<. ' ' "''
Manuscript of last page of Governor Stevenson's April 22nd speech at
Dallas Council on World Affairs contains fewer corrections than usual.
The Governor jotted down the lines from Robert Frost from memory.
United Press Photo
Stevenson has flown 50,000 miles since his election in
1948 mostly around Illinois in his two-engine Beech-
Stevenson, with former Mayor Edward J. Kelly and Mayor Martin
Kennelly (right) greets President Truman arriving in Chicago for 1950
Courtesy Life, Time, Inc.
Stevenson preserved habitual good humor throughout hue and cry of
1952 presidential boom.
party (in that case the Republican) does not have to get out
of office in order to rid itself and the nation of the faithless.
Q. In your experience as Governor, have you found a
bipartisan approach on certain issues helpful?
A. Indeed it has. I am proud of the fact that the 1951
session of the Legislature in Illinois enacted a very large
number of the proposals contained in my program and
both houses of the Legislature were Republican by com-
fortable margins. That was possible only thanks to the help
and cooperation of a substantial number of Republicans.
It is true, of course, that most of the issues which con-
cern a State government like Illinois bear little relation to
the issues which divide us nationally, and I have preached
this up and down the length and breadth of our state. But
it is quite easy to mix partisan politics into state affairs, the
result being too often complete frustration and paralysis. I
am genuinely grateful that we have been able to avoid this
in Illinois because many members of both parties have ex-
hibited real statesmanship in using the bipartisan approach.
Q. Do you believe in delegating to department heads
complete authority, or do you believe in working out the
policies in group consultation and then delegating full
atuhority to each department head?
A. No chief executive either can, or should, shift respon-
sibility for major-policy formulation to his deparment heads.
That is unfair to the latter, and certain to be disastrous to
the former, because he will find inevitably that policy has
gotten away from his control. I think, therefore, that the
top executive should always keep in close touch with the
policies of his department heads. Anybody who is good
ADLAI E. STEVENSON
enough to head a deparment should, of course, be trusted
in large measure with the execution of policies once evolved
in consultation; but, even here, a governor of a state should
not, any more than the president of a large corporation,
isolate himself completely from familiarity with what is go-
ing on in actual administration.
Q. Since you won the 1948 election for Governor loy
572,000 and Mr. Truman won 1y only 34,000, to what do
you attribute the success of your campaign did a large
number of Republicans vote for you?
A. The application of a little arithmetic suggests that the
answer is "Yes/* Illinois has an ancient, however unfortunate
and misguided, propensity for voting Republican in state
contests, which I can best illustrate by noting that I am the
fourth Democratic Governor of Illinois since the Civil War.
I think there is no question but that I was the beneficiary
in 1948 of a large protest vote which included many num-
bers of the same political faith as my opponent. I hope those
same people will vote for me next November for more
Stevenson s answers to the questions put loy U. S. News
& World Report were prepared in his office after careful
consideration and consultation with his staff. On March 30th,
the Governor found himself called upon to give extempora-
neous answers to considered questions put to him loy four top-
notch reporters on the television program "Meet the Press"*
The program was telecast the day after President Truman's
announcement that he would not be a candidate for re-
election. It opened with the announcers introduction of
*By permission of "Meet the Press" and co-producers Martha Roimtree and
Stevenson and of co-producer Lawrence Spivak and con-
tinued as follows:
SPIVAK: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome
to Meet the Press. YouVe met our guest, distinguished
Governor of Illinois, Adlai Stevenson. Now meet our press
panel: Mr. Edwin Leahy of the Chicago Daily News,
Miss May Craig of the Portland, Main, Press-Herald,
Roscoe Drummond of the Christian Science Monitor, and
Mr. Richard Wilson of the Des Moines Register and Min-
neapolis Tribune. And now, Governor, if you're ready,
well let Miss Craig have the first question.
CRAIG: Governor, last night at the Jefferson-Jackson dinner,
all the Democratic leaders were saying why they ought to
he re-elected for another four years. Don't you think it's
dangerous for one party to stay in so long, dangerous for
STEVENSON: It might be dangerous for the country if the,
if its result was the destruction of the two party system.
I see no evidence of that. The Republican party looks
just as healthy to me as it ever did and a little healthier
than it did in the early '30's.
CRAIG: Don't you think the revelations of corruptions reveal
you've been in too long?
STEVENSON: Well, I you saw revelations of corruption in
the first years of the Harding administration after it had
been in office three years. Do you think that indicated
that the Republicans had been in too long?
CRAIG: Well, sir, I was just asking your opinion. Let me
ask you this: How do you think the Democrats can clean
up themselves? How can that be done?
[ 2,07 ]
ADLAI E. STEVENSON
STEVENSON: I don't see that there's any magic about how
you do it. If you find corruption anywhere, you obliterate
it. Corruption is treason to a political party, in my opinion,
because corruption is disloyal, because it can only breed
ill-will for the party. The party itself should be more
concerned with destroying corruption within its ranks
than even the people themselves.
CRAIG: Well, sir, do you contend that the Democratic party
has been diligent in rooting out corruption up to now?
STEVENSON: I'm not contending anything. I was trying to
answer your question.
CRAIG: Well, I'm asking you, sir.
STEVENSON: You're asking me do I think it's been diligent?
I think once . . .
STEVENSON: , . . that these evidences of corruption in the
Federal government were brought to the President's at-
tention he has acted. I think his plan to reorganize the
Bureau of Internal Revenue was perhaps a wise one. I
don't purport to know whether it was wise or not. At
least, he made a conscientious effort to take it out of the
political arena and put it under the civil service. And I
was astonished to observe, if I might say so, that I think
some five out of six Republicans in the Senate committee
voted against that bill.
SPIVAK: Mr. Leahy?
LEAHY: Governor, President Truman didn't announce his
decision to step out until it appeared that Senator Taft's
campaign was coining unraveled, and your own reluctance
to be a candidate grows by the hour. Would there by any
[ 208 ]
chance be any plan to throw this whole hall game to
STEVENSON: Well, if there's any such plan, I'm not a part
SPIVAK: Mr. Wilson?
WILSON: Governor, the atmosphere around here has been
pretty heavily charged with politics, but I want to ask
you a little about Illinois . . .
STEVENSON: That's no secret to me. I've discovered it in the
last 24 hours.
WILSON: Yes, I'm sure you have. I want to ask you a little
about Illinois and the general section of the country.
What do you think the attitude of the people is today?
What do they want? What are they dissatisfied with?
What do they want different?
STEVENSON: I think the Mrs. Craig suggested one thing.
I think they're very much concerned about the level of
morals in public life. I think naturally they are concerned
about the level of taxes. I think the long and frustrating
ordeal in Korea has been a source of both bewilderment,
WILSON: Then do you think that the people want to stop
the war in Korea? Do they want lower taxes? How do you
follow that out?
STEVENSON: I think people always want lower taxes, but I
think perhaps, well informed as to the alternatives, they
wouldn't insist on lower taxes at the sacrifice of national
SPIVAK: Mr. Drummond?
STEVENSON: I think there's a general unrest in the country,
[ 2,09 ]
ADLAI E. STEVENSON
Mr. Wilson. That's what I was attempting to say.
WILSON: Well, do you feel that taxes are too high now for
the level of national defense? Are the expenditures too
high for our own safety and security?
STEVENSON: Seems to me they're certainly too high for our
prolonged economic stability, but whether they're too
high for our security I don't know. That would be a ques-
tion that I wouldn't purport to answer.
WILSON: Well, as a man in public life what would you do
to meet this situation?
STEVENSON: Well, which situation do you mean, Mr. . . .
WILSON: All three that you referred to, morals, taxes and
STEVENSON: I think that government the moral aspect of
your question is very much like a pump, that you will
pump into the government precisely what you pump out
of the people, in a government by the people; that the
level of morals in public life can never be much different
from the level of morals in civilian life.
I think, therefore, that our problem about improving
the difficulties in which we're, we have been we seem
to be encountering after, in this anxious age, after two
devastating wars. I think government, however, must be,
must take the lead and that we must establish precedents
and practices in government which, perhaps, we wouldn't
even find among our citizenry. It must be like Caesar's
As to the second aspect of your question, taxes, the tax
burden in this country depends is due largely to the
national defense effort. I would say that perhaps it's wiser
[ 210 ]
to spend money which, even in what appears to be ex-
cessive quantities, to buy insurance than it would be to
risk war and the cost of rebuilding the house. As to the
third aspect of your question, if you'll remind me what it
STEVENSON: IVe already covered that.
SPIVAK: Corruption, taxes and . . .
SPIVAK: . . . war.
STEVENSON: I personally am a believer in the so-called post-
war policy that's been directed by the Administration of
perhaps I could reduce it to the simple words of assistance
and resistance: resistance to the extension of Communist
dominion in the world and assistance to the free world to
help in that resistance.
SPIVAK: Governor, what do you think would have happened
if the United States and the United Nations had not gone
into Korea in 1950, June, 1950?
STEVENSON: Well, I think it's very likely of course, I
can't be any more sure of it than you are I think it's
very likely that it would have disillusioned a great many
people in the Orient and perhaps in Western Europe.
It seems to me had we not met this first armed challenge,
this first challenge of the principle of collective security to
which we have dedicated both our national policy and
so much of our abstance in the post-war era, that it could
only have resulted in a sense of alarm, a sense of appre-
hension and insecurity in the rest of the world with the
ADLAI E. STEVENSON
probability that appeasement by those countries would
have followed very rapidly and we would have found
ourselves ultimately, if not alone, more or lesse alone.
SPIVAK: Well, Governor, how much of the responsibility
for the events that led up to Korea is on the shoulders of
those who lead us, and that is the Democratic party?
STEVENSON: The events that led up to Korea?
STEVENSON: Well, I don't know by what you mean by
the events that led up to Korea. If you mean that there
is Communism in the world, which is ...
SPIVAK: No, I meant, I mean what happened in China, for
example. I mean what happened about Formosa, for ex-
ample. I mean the withdrawals of troops from Korea.
STEVENSON: Well, that was pursuant to a resolution adopted
by the United Nations, that both the United States and
the Soviet Union would withdraw its forces from the
Korean peninsula. I think we complied with it in good
faith. Whether the Soviet Union did or not I've never
been sure. It's possible that we have made errors in Korea.
I wouldn't, I'd be the last to dispute it. I would say,
however, that the question remains, could we have done
anything else than we did in, at the, on the 25th of June,
1950? My own opinion is that we did the only thing
that we dared to do at that time.
DRUMMOND: Governor, you have mentioned that you were
a supporter of the government policy of assistance and
resistance, and I assume that you would agree that the
principal measures that have carried out that policy in-
elude the Greek-Turkish loan, the Marshall Plan, the
North Atlantic Treaty, Mutual Assistance, and so forth.
Now since those measures have largely been supported
by both parties, do you consider that foreign policy is an
issue in this election or that it is seriously at stake?
STEVENSON: Well, Mr. Dmmmond, I think that foreign
policy should be bipartisan, that our controversy should
end, to the extent that that's possible, at the water's edge.
I think they are the basic issues in this election. (SIC)
Now I don't know what the point of view of the Repub-
lican Party will be. I think I know what the point of
view of the Democratic Party will be, and I would hope
that this election, if it proved nothing else, would serve
to remove some of the confusion and some of the mis-
understanding that exists on the part of the American
people about our, both our responsibilities and where our
best self-interest lies in the international field.
CRAIG: Governor, you said once that peace is the unfinished
task of our generation. Korea, of course, is the hot spot.
What would you do about Korea? What would you do?
STEVENSON: Well, Mrs. Craig, I would personally exhaust
every conceivable avenue to bring about a settlement of
the hostilities in Korea. I think that what we are doing is
about all we can do, and that's to exert every possible
effort to settle the Korean incident without enlarging the
scope of the war.
CRAIG: It's been since last July now since we've even tried
to get a truce. Would you just go on talking at Panmun-
ADLAI E. STEVENSON
STEVENSON: I have no alternatives. I wish I did.
LEAHY: Well, to what avail is all this talk if you insist on
shunning a role in national politics, Governor? You have
said you don't want a place on the ticket, haven't you,
and that you're not seeking it?
STEVENSON: Yes, IVe said that I was a candidate for Gov-
ernor of Illinois, and that's all. That's my aim.
LEAHY: Well, wouldn't your grandfather, Vice-President
Stevenson, twirl in his grave if he saw you running away
from a chance to be the Democratic nominee in 1952?
STEVENSON: Well, I think we'll have to leave grandfather
SPIVAK: Governor, President Truman said yesterday that he
will not be a candidate for the Democratic nomination
nor will he accept a draft. Does that describe your posi-
STEVENSON: My position, Mr. Spivak and perhaps I
should take this opportunity to try to make it clear if it's
not * is that Tarn an announced candidate for Governor
of Illinois. We haven't even had our Illinois primary. I
have no other ambitions than to be Governor of Illinois.
I do not seek, I will not seek, the Democratic nomination
for the Presidency. A man cannot run for two offices at
the same time. I've invested something over three years
now of hard work, blood and sweat, in the, my job in
Illinois. It's been very satisfying and a very rewarding ex-
perience for me. I have induced a great many people to
come into the state government of Illinois.
What we've been able to accomplish and I think it's
considerable in view of the conditions we found when my
[ 214 ]
administration started has been largely due to the sup-
port and the loyalty of a great many people of all parties
in the state of Illinois. I feel a great sense of obligation
to a state in which my people have lived for over 120
SPIVAK: Well, Governor, are we to understand from what
you have just said that you are requesting that your name
not be presented to the convention for the Democratic
nomination and that if it is presented that you will ask
that it be withdrawn, sir?
STEVENSON: Mr. Spivak, that's a bridge that's more than
four months hence, isn't it? It certainly is a bridge that
I would not attempt to cross now. I can only tell you what
my present state of mind is, and that is that. I'm a can-
didate for Governor and nothing else, and I seek nothing
but that. I hope very much that the people of Illinois will
see fit to re-elect me.
WILSON: I merely wanted, Mr. Spivak, to bring out a point
there in connection with what the Governor has just
said. What is the date of the Illinois primary?
STEVENSON: It's the 8th of April.
WILSON: The 8th of April. Then someone who runs for
the Democratic nomination is going to have to get busy
pretty soon if you don't run: is that right?
STEVENSON: If I don't run for Governor?
WILSON: Yeah. You haven't got hardly no time at all prac-
STEVENSON: Well, you mean between now and the 8th of
ADLAI E. STEVENSON
STEVENSON: Well, practically no time is right, yes.
WILSON: You expect to get the nomination regardless of
whether you're nominated for President; is that right?
STEVENSON: Well, 111 be nominated for Governor of Illinois
on the Democratic ticket on the 8th of April.
WILSON: Well, then, what's going to happen to the office?
Are you just going to vacate it if you're nominated for
STEVENSON: You mean after, you mean if I were nominated
at the National Convention?
STEVENSON: Well, if I were nominated and if I accepted the
nomination, both of which would seem to me a very
remote contingency, that I would accept a nomination that
I hadn't been even offered to me but granted that
that were possible, the law in Illinois is that the State
Central Committee selects the successor.
WILSON: Successor. YouVe considered that possibility al-
SPIVAK: You're considering it now, anyhow, aren't you,
STEVENSON: I've heard about it, I think, for the last 12 or
1 5 years.
CEAIG: Governor, I've been around here 20 years, and I've
heard a lot of ways of talking about things like, "I'm not
a candidate" and so forth. General Eisenhower went
through that. President Truman said a very simple thing
last night. He said, "I shall not accept the nomination."
Will you say that, or will you not say that?
STEVENSON: I will not say that. I will say that that's a ques-
tion that I a bridge that I can't cross until I come to it,
and I see very little likelihood that I'll have to come to it.
CRAIG: Well, then, could I ask you this? Senator Taft told
me once that he wanted a lot of things that he thought
ought to he done for this country and that the President
is the only man that can do them and that's the reason
he wants to be President. Now you have the reputation of
a crusader in Illinois. You got a lot of things done there.
Isn't there any temptation to you to want to do things
for this country, too, the whole country?
STEVENSON: Well, I'm glad you all down here in
Washington have heard about what we've been doing in
CKAIG: Oh, yes, we have.
STEVENSON: My temptation is to go on doing, and see if I
can finish the job.
CRAIG: But not on a larger scale?
STEVENSON: I don't think the job is ever finished, mind
you, and I think we could make permanent some of the
things that we have started in these past three years, and
I should like to have the opportunity.
CRAIG: But not on a national and international scale?
STEVENSON: I don't see that anybody's panting to have the
Governor of Illinois run the country or the, or even the
world, for the next few years.
CRAIG: That wasn't an answer, Governor.
STEVENSON: Well, the answer is just what IVe said re-
peatedly, and that is that I am pledged to run for Gov-
ernor. I must run for Governor. I want to run for Gov-
ADLAI E. STEVENSON
ernor. I seek no other office. I Lave no other ambition.
SPIVAK: Governor, doesn't this large studio audience give
you any indication how some of the people of the coun-
try feel about that?
STEVENSON: It's very flattering, indeed, and I suppose flat-
tery hurts no one; that is, if he doesn't inhale.
DRUMMONB: Well, I'd like to just remark to the extent of
saying that while the Governor seems to be aware of
many things, he's not aware of the national interest within
his party of his possible nomination, and I think that
perhaps in the next few weeks he may become increas-
ingly aware of it and come face to face with a very tough
decision he's got to make. But I'd like to suggest that
there are a lot of people that would be interested in his
views on domestic questions, whether he's a candidate
or not, and I wondered if he would indicate a general
point of view on such subjects as, say, the Taft-Hartley
Law or FEPC . . .
SPIVAK: Well, let's take one question at a time. Are you for
or against the Taft-Hartley Law?
STEVENSON: That's like asking me if I'm for or against the
tax laws. There are about a, more than a hundred pro-
visions, I think, sections, sub-sections in the Taft-Hartley
Law. I couldn't answer it, am I for or against it.
SPIVAK: Would you say generally that it has helped or
STEVENSON: I think there I think in some respects it's
helped and in other respects it's hurt, and if you were to
give me ten minutes I'd try to discuss it. I think the
Taft-Hartley Law needs revision, needs substantial amend-
ment. I don't think it should be repealed.
SPIVAK: Now where do you stand on a compulsory FEPC?
That's your second question, isn't it, Mr. Drummond?
DRUMMOND: Or on civil rights generally . . .
STEVENSON: You haven't any easy questions, by the way,
you'd like to ask me first, have you?
DRUMMOND: All the other easy questions we left outside
STEVENSON: Well, I'd say this: I personally feel that the
states regulate as many of the public affairs of this country
as they possibly could. I'm a very strong believer that the
government concentration of authority in Washington to
the extent that that's possible should be arrested. I've writ-
ten and spoken in that field, as perhaps some of you
know, rather extensively. I would hope very much that
the problem of civil rights could be administered by the
states and administered adequately by the states. To that
end, I've tried in the past two sessions of the Illinois
legislature to get an FEPC bill passed in Illinois.
If, however, it's impossible to do that, if the states
and I think many of the one of the reasons why we
have such a concentration of authority in Washington is
in many cases due to the states' wrongs, failures of states
to discharge their responsibilities if it's impossible for
the state to do this job and do it properly, then I would
say the Federal government must, because I think ulti-
mately we have to, it's imperative that we move on
progressively to give, to realize in practice our profes-
sions of faith, and one of our professions of faith is the
equality of opportunity of every man, woman, and child
ADLAI E. STEVENSON
in this country, irrespective of race, color, and creed. I
think democracy knows no color line.
LEAHY: Governor, I know you have a keen sense of political
morality. A question comes up, why can't they solve some
of those political assassinations in Cook County?
STEVENSON: That question has arisen in my mind a good
many times. I wish I knew the answer.
CRAIG: Governor, there is, amid the general admiration for
you, I may say, there is one criticism I hear a good deal,
and that is that in the Alger Hiss trial you gave a deposi-
tion as a character witness. Would you tell us how that
STEVENSON: Yes. The court in New York before which he
was being tried that was in the first trial, this was in the
spring of 1949, as I recall pursuant to an order of that
court, some questions were, interrogatories, as they're called,
were sent out to me in Springfield and presented to me by
the United States Commissioner for the Springfield dis-
trict, and the question, in effect, was from what you heard
from others, that is, from what others told you, what was
Mr. Hiss's reputation for loyalty, integrity, honesty, at
the time you knew him in well, as of that time, in 1948.
My answer was that it was good.
SPIVAK: That wasn't your opinion. That was the opinion you
said others had of him?
STEVENSON: That was the question that was asked me, was,
from what you have heard from others, what is his opinion
what was his reputation? And I would say this, if I
might, if you'll permit me to speak a word longer. I'm a
lawyer. I think that one of the most fundamental respon-
[ 220 ]
sibilities, not only of every citizen but particularly of
lawyers, is to give testimony in a court of law, to give it
honestly and willingly, and it will be a very unhappy day
for Anglo-Saxon justice when a man, even a man in public
life, is too timid to state what he knows and what he has
heard about a defendant in a criminal trial for fear that
defendant might later be convicted. That would to me be
the ultimate timidity.
DRUMMOND: IVe just got one question that bears on the
immediate point, and that is now that so many of the facts
have come out in the Hiss case, what is your judgement
of feeling about the verdict of the court?
STEVENSON: I'm a lawyer. I believe explicitly that a jury of
one's peers must find the right answer or else we have no,
we can have no faith in our judicial system.
WILSON: Governor, on that point, did you know Alger Hiss
when you were in the Agricultural Adjustment Adminis-
STEVENSON: I met him first when I was in the AAA where
I worked for four and a half months in 1933.
LEAHY: Were you aware of what Whittaker Chambers now
calls that Communist Cell which originated in that organ-
STEVENSON: No, I was there in '33 and I don't, I knew
nothing about it then. I only knew him very slightly. I
was mostly in California.
WILSON: You knew nothing about it. However, you are
against loyalty investigations as a general principle, are
STEVENSON: I'm for professional . . .
ADLAI E. STEVENSON
DRUMMOND: The loyalty investigations as a generality?
STEVENSON: No, on the contrary . . .
WILSON: Well, you say here in a veto message, 'the whole
notion of loyalty inquisitions is a natural characteristic of
a police state and not democracy/ If you condemn them
all, I just wondered if you condemned the McCarran
STEVENSON: What is the McCarran investigation?
WILSON: Well, the McCarran investigation as you must
should know, at least is an inquiry in the Senate to find
out how deep the roots of Communism go.
STEVENSON: Oh, yes, yes. No, I don't condemn that. I do
very much condemn the, what shall we say, the danger of
very broad accusations, unsubstantiated charges, which
not only endanger . . .
WILSON: That's McCarthyism.
STEVENSON: . . . the reputation of an individual but they
actually do an injustice to the republic because we must,
we can't let hysteria in our anxiety to prevent any injury
to the Bill of Rights, destroy the Bill of Rights itself.
WILSON: Well, you would be in favor of a more scientific
STEVENSON: That's right. I think the question of Communism
and treachery must be ruthlessly pursued. I think, I
think . . .
SPIVAK: Sorry, Governor, I'm sorry I have to interrupt you.
Our time is up. This concludes the latest edition of Meet
the Press. Thank you, Governor Stevenson for being with
[ 222 ]
GOVERNOR STEVENSON lias a flair for the neat phrase^
the effective metaphor, the shrewd generalization. Here are
a few capsule comments, chosen at random from his speeches,
writings and conversation:
There Kas been a lot of flattering talk on the theme o
"home town boy makes good/' It ought to be the other way
around good home town makes boy.
In our time science and technology have made the world
so small and intergroup contacts so numerous and involved,
that otherwise normal human relations have become fraught
with tension. Racial friction has become a major threat to
the peace and security of all mankind.
. . . the worst obstacle and most dangerous symptom of
all is the disdain, derision and disrespect for politics and
politicians by people who should know that politics is gov-
[ 223 ]
ADLAI E. STEVENSON
eminent, that it is managed by politicians and that govern-
ment today is the biggest big business of all
I believe emphatically in what is called for want of a
better word "free enterprise/' But free enterprise in our
world must result in more than profit for the few. It must
be a source of well being for the many, or it won't be free
The Spoils System
Nothing has exasperated me more than to be told that I
ought not to consider appointing a particular person to a
particular job solely because he has been active in a political
party. The issue should be not whether the individual has
interested himself in normal and healthy party activities, but
whether he is honest, competent and qualified for the job.
Big government, by comparison with previous standards,
is here to stay. Our government is the largest enterprise on
earth. Its greater centralization has been inevitable because
of the growing complexity of domestic problems, and because
of our enlarged responsibilities in world affairs. The problem
now is to keep government from getting so big, so unwieldy,
and so powerful that it will get out of the hands of the
people, Government in our country must always be the
servant of the people, never the master of the people.
Politicians often speak of "giving" the people good gov-
ernment. But one can't really give good government to the
people. Good government is not a gift; it is an achievement.
It has a price- the price that must be paid in time and
energy and mental sweat in order to understand and to inform
others of our problems; the price of examining all sides of
public issues; the price of subordinating your own immediate
interest to the long range welfare of the whole people.
As Governor of Illinois, I cannot shape any national or
international policies. But I can improve the probity, the
efficiency and the morality of state government or break
my heart and head in the attempt. I can influence our policies
in education, welfare, taxation and all of the hundred and
one housekeeping jobs that are within my province.
Government under our system can never be wholly effi-
cient or perfect, but it certainly can be better; indeed it
must be better. And as government descends from the
national to the local level partisan divisions dimmish in
importance. There are few issues at the state level which
divide us into Republicans and Democrats, but unhappily
we still carry over the convictions more often prejudices
of national thinking into the local arena. I believe that
maturity and understanding will diminish these conflicts.
[ 2,25 ]
ADLAI E. STEVENSON
The church teaches the dignity of man and devotion to
God and country. These are likewise fundamental precepts
of government as we understand it. The stamping out of
slavery in every form, the preservation of the rights of indi-
vidual citizens, the protection of the dignity of man, the
elimination of intolerance, and the preservation of religious
freedom, all these are things to which the churches and free
governments are jointly committed.
If we did not have states we would create them rather
than centralize all power at one central point where conges-
tion of authority would soon defeat the purposes and possi-
bilities of democratic participation at the grass roots of our
The Average Man
I believe that the average man cares less for politics and
party labels than positive performance; that the best govern-
ment is the best politics, and that any political organization
that does not realize that is dead, if not buried.
Proud of the past, patient with what Washington called
"the impostures of pretended patriotism/' it is for us, the
living, to rekindle the hot, indignant fires of faith in the
free man, free in body, free in mind, free in spirit, free to
hold any opinion, free to search and find the truth for him-
self; the old faith that is ever new that burned so brightly
here at Gettysburg long ago.
The World's Choice
The preservation of the free world hangs upon our ability
to win the allegiance of those millions and millions of
people throughout the world who have not yet made their
choice between our democratic system, on the one hand, and
the promises which Communism offers, on the other. That
choice will be mainly shaped by our own performance. It
will turn upon such things as our ability to avoid the dis-
ruptions of depression, to guarantee equality of opportunity,
to narrow the gulfs separating economic status, to preserve
freedom of thought and action, to make democracy accord in
practice with its premises and professions of faith.
Price and Privilege
Our experience has, I think, served to emphasize that
while social progress in the legislative field is steady and sure
it is sometimes slow. It demonstrates anew that progress in
public management almost always lags behind progress in
technology and science. But our clumsy, slow way is better
than the quick, decisive way of the authoritarian dictators.
And when we get impatient to put everything to rights and
quickly, perhaps it is well to reflect that delay and frustra-
tion are a cheap price to pay for the democratic process and
the people's privilege of running their own affairs.
The answer to communism is democracy; not less democ-
[ 2,2,7 ]
ADLAI E. STEVENSON
racy, or just enough, but more. And democracy is color Hind.
We in America today cannot control our own fate and our
own future. They are shaped inexorably by events too remote
to perceive, too complex to comprehend.
Destiny has given to this generation another long and
hard and bloody struggle to save what our forebears have
wrought and to forge a structure for peace which will blot
out the evil shadow of tyranny creeping across the earth and
let us live in a world where no one drags a chain.
We must prove to the world that we will fight for peace
if we have to. We want no more Munichs. We know from
sad and bloody experience that appeasement begets more
appeasement and finally disaster. We know that the strong
cant avoid being the responsible as well. So we have drawn
the sword in unprecedented resistance to cynical, brutal,
The Human Animal
Man is not only an individual. As Seneca observed, he
is also a social animal. But he is something more than an
animal. He is endowed by his Creator with inalienable
rights. He is a moral agent with the power of making choices
affecting not only himself, tut countless others. It is because
we are more than animals that we can blow ourselves off the
face of this planet in the next 50 years. It is also because we
are more than animals that we can make this world a better
place better both in material things and in the things of
spirit than it has ever been before.
The Teaching Aim
It has fallen to our lot as it did to the ancient Greeks in
their time, and to the Romans in theirs, to make a unique
contribution to human history. What is that contribution?
I would say it was the realization of an idealist's dream of
a free society in which hopes and aspirations once reserved
for the few are the property of the many. The American
system of public education is both the symbol and the means
of our great contribution. To show us the way to this concept
of democratic society is the aim of the teacher.
After all, democracy is nothing more than an attempt to
apply Christian principles to a human society. Our fore-
fathers came together in a common faith in one God. They
printed it on their money "In God We Trust/'
The Iron Cage
Time will reveal that the intellectual paralysis of the
people, which is the indispensable ingredient of totalitarian-
ism, is more deadly to the Soviet system than military weapons.
I 2,29 ]
ADLAI E. STEVENSON
Crime and Country Clubs
Organized crime cannot thrive without the active support
of many elements of the community, nor without the passive
support of many more elements. The respectable business
man who falls for the myth that a wide-open town is good
for business is just as effective an accomplice of the criminal
as is the politician who seeks to win friends by influencing
people. The solid citizen who thinks that illegal slot machines
are just fine for his country club but bad for the corner
saloon does not realize what difficulties he is making for the
person he has elected to enforce the laws.
Law enforcement doesn't exist in a vacuum, and it can't
be considered in isolation. The crisis in law enforcement is
but one aspect of the crisis of representative government.
Good government is indivisible. You can't expect good gov-
ernment in other departments along with dishonest or in-
effective law enforcement, and you can't have effective law
enforcement without honest, efficient, responsible government
all down the line.
I learned at first hand many years ago of the utter incom-
patibility of our systems but I didn't conclude then nor have
I subsequently that peaceful co-existence on the same planet
with Soviet Russia is impossible. Devising the means of co-
existence will not be easy and will prolong the crisis of our
time perhaps for years and years to come.
I sometimes marvel at the extraordinary docility with
which Americans submit to speeches.
The Important Trick
It is hard for some people to grow old without becoming
cynical, but I would say to young people: listen to the old
and the young courteously but be careful who influences
you. If you run across those who see no good in the world,
who say that everything is going to the dogs and that most
people are rascals, don't believe them. But don't reject wis-
dom from whatever source it may come. Some of your elders
have lived a long time, some of them have learned much.
The trick is to select the truly wise ones and listen to them.
'What kind of Democrat I am" makes me feel a little like
the old lady who said she didn't know what she thought until
she heard what she said. I'm not sure what kind of a Demo-
crat I am, but I am sure what kind of a Democrat I am not.
I'm not one of those who believes we should have a demo-
cratic regime because it is good for the Democratic Party. If
the Democratic party is not good for the nation it is not good
for me or for Democrats.
Klu Klux Klan
I am astonished by the reports of burning crosses in the
Alton area. They must be the work of individuals and not
ADLAI E. STEVENSON
of organized groups, Illinois will not tolerate the Klu Klux
Klan or any organized racial hatred and intimidation.
I don't like doles. I don't like subsidies. I don't like any
interferences with free markets, free men and free enter-
prise. I like freedom to succeed or to fail. But I also know that
there can be no real freedom without economic justice, social
justice, equality of opportunity and a fair chance for every
individual to make the most of himself. And I know that
there is little the man on the assembly line or the plow can
do to affect the chain of events which may close his factory
or foreclose his mortgage. Discontented, desperate men will
sell freedom very cheap.
Our Helpful Enemies
I should not be surprised if some day at least an occasional
historian referred to this revolutionary era among other
things as the age of rediscovery an interval in which we
rediscovered and reexamined many of our concepts, discarded
some, exalted others, and generally overhauled a political
and economic system that has developed in the careless,
expedient, haphazard fashion that orders most affairs of men.
If we do, I think we will have our two dread enemies to
thank most Russia and taxes.
Self-criticism is democracy's secret weapon. It enables us
to periodically re-examine our successes and our failures, our
advances and our retreats, on the road toward the fuller
expression, and the maximum employment of all our human
. . . peace is the most important unfinished business of